Deal on Animal Care Means No Fall Ballot Issue in Ohio on Animal CareThu, 01 Jul 2010 4:50:44 CDT
The Humane Society of the United States will not pursue a ballot initiative in Ohio this fall. That's because HSUS and Ohio agricultural groups have reached an agreement that preserves the integrity of the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board approved by voters last fall and provides a pathway for enactment of eight major animal welfare reforms. The agreement calls for the livestock board and/or state legislature to adopt several provisions - including a moratorium on permits for the construction of egg production facilities that would use conventional cage housing; a ban on gestation stalls after December 31st this year, with existing stalls permitted to stay in production for 15 years; and a ban on transportation of non-ambulatory cows for slaughter. Click here for the full details of the actual agreement.
We have an audio overview of this deal from the perspective of the Ohio Farm Bureau's Executive Vice President, Jack Fisher. Click on the Listen Bar below to hear his thoughts from the News Conference held by the participants on Wednesday afternoon.
"One of animal agriculture's most vocal critics has agreed that the Livestock Care Standards Board is the proper authority to handle difficult questions about farm animal care," said Jack Fisher, OFBF executive vice president. "This is truly a milestone and confirms Ohio's position as a national leader in farm animal care."
From the Ohio Farm Bureau's website, two early comments show the disappointment of rank and file farmers in that state. One comment reads "I'm very disappointed with Ohio agricultural leaders with this compromise. How can I look my neighbors in the eye and tell them everything I've been telling them wasn't worth fighting for?" She concludes "I've worked and worked to keep HSUS out of Ohio for nothing." A second comment also reflects the feeling of betrayal by its poster- "I am certain the battle between truth and the HSUS that was about to ensue would have been unpleasant, unconscionable, grotesque and very hard to overcome; however, we would have prevailed without folding to the activists that will be back to destroy us, they will have even more money the next go around; I wonder what they compromises will be then?"
Click here to read the coverage on the Ohio Farm Bureau website- they have links to the Governor's statement and video as well.
The following is the full text of the news release from the Humane Society of the US, describing the deal struck by Wayne Pacelle with Ohio officials.
A deal struck among The Humane Society of the United States, Ohioans for Humane Farms, Ohio agriculture leaders and Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland will lead to major animal welfare improvements in Ohio on a raft of issues, reforming industry practices and improving prospects for adoption of critical legislation in other areas. The agreement puts a hold on a planned factory farming initiative on the fall ballot.
"I'm grateful to Governor Strickland and his administration for their outstanding leadership on these issues," said Wayne Pacelle, HSUS president and CEO. Pacelle appeared with Gov. Strickland and Ohio Farm Bureau Executive Vice President Jack Fisher at a press conference to announce the agreement. "This agreement moves us forward on all of the components of the proposed ballot measure as well as other important advances for animals, too. I look forward to working with the Legislature and the Livestock Care Board to see these reforms adopted."
The agreement includes recommendations from all of the parties for the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Care Board, the Legislature, and the Governor to adopt the following provisions:
· A ban on veal crates by 2017, which is the same timing as the ballot measure.
· A ban on new gestation crates in the state after December 31, 2010. Existing facilities are grandfathered, but must cease use of these crates within 15 years.
· A moratorium on permits for new battery cage confinement facilities for laying hens.
· A ban on strangulation of farm animals and mandatory humane euthanasia methods for sick or injured animals.
· A ban on the transport of downer cows for slaughter.
· Enactment of a legislation establishing felony-level penalties for cock fighters.
· Enactment of legislation cracking down on puppy mills.
· Enactment of a ban on the acquisition of dangerous exotic animals as pets, such as primates, bears, lions, tigers, large constricting and venomous snakes, crocodiles, and alligators.
"Ohioans should be proud that our state will be implementing these meaningful animal welfare reforms, and I am extremely grateful to all the Ohio animal advocates who gathered signatures to make this day possible," said John Dinon, executive director of the Toledo Area Humane Society and president of the board of directors of Ohioans for Humane Farms. "Although I am a bit disappointed that action on battery cages will be delayed due to the compromise reached today, I still consider this a great victory for Ohio's animals and animal advocates."
"These reforms represent important progress for farm animals and other animals in Ohio, and we're grateful to all our volunteers in Ohio who worked so hard to make this happen," said Gene Baur, president of Farm Sanctuary.
Ohio is one of only 11 states that do not have a felony law against cockfighting. The relatively meager penalties have made the state a safe haven for cockfighters from nearby states, and hampered law enforcement efforts to crack down on the illegal activity. The legislation, H.B. 108, passed the House and is awaiting a vote in a Senate committee.
The HSUS reached the agreement with the Ohio Farm Bureau and other agricultural commodity groups on the same day Ohioans for Humane Farms would have delivered more than 500,000 signatures to the Secretary of State. The group gathered enough signatures to put an anti-factory farming measure before Ohio voters in November.
"We are grateful to the Ohio volunteers who put tremendous energy towards the effort to gather enough signatures to place the measure on the ballot," said Pacelle. "Their effort led to this agreement that moves the ball forward on all those reforms while leading the state to address other serious animal welfare concerns and avoiding a costly and contentious campaign."
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