Candidates Speak Out Against HSUS Plan

Buckeye Farm Beat

Ohio Farm Bureau meeting provides forum for gubernatorial candidates to take shots at ballot initiative.

Published on: February 25, 2010

The Ohio Farm Bureau Federation’s Annual Ag Day at the Capitol drew some 400 members and guests to Columbus on Tuesday (Feb. 23). The crowd of potential voters also garnered the attention of the two candidates who will vie for the job of governor next November.


Clearly both men knew that the audience was interested in recent action by the Humane Society of the United States to put a new referendum on the November ballot requiring the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board to adopt HSUS demands. Recall that last November Ohio voters approved a measure establishing the new board by a 2 to 1 margin. HB 414 to lay out the specifics of how the board will operate is now under consideration by the state legislature and public hearings on the new board’s duties are expected this spring. HSUS wants to specify how the board behaves by asking voters to approve their own "anti-cruelty" ammendment. Specifically HSUS’ new proposal would throw out established practices of rearing poultry, hogs and veal calves by requiring changes in the amount of space required for confinement. They are also calling for voters to enforce the use of euthanasia and place restrictions on downer livestock --both of which are already required and in practice in the livestock industry.


Gov. Ted Strickland, the incumbent Democrat, had first crack at the podium and he jumped right in by thanking the Farm Bureau members for their “monumental effort” in passage of Issue 2. Furthermore he promised to join the organization to prevent a referendum proposed by the Humane Society of the United States to dictate the board’s actions from being passed.


“I know we will work together to make sure what has been done is not undone. If we want to eat, and if we want access to affordable and inexpensive food, it is important for the agricultural community within our state not to be hamstrung and to have their hands tied behind their back by those who do not fully appreciate the value of what happens on our farms," Gov. Strickland told the crowd.


His comments were met with a standing ovation.


Former U.S. Rep. Kasich, R-Westerville, was just a vocal in condemning the HSUS proposal. “No outsiders ought to come in here and try to destroy our farms. I am going on TV and I am going to defeat this extremism. I am marching with you,” Kasich said.


And again the group rose to its feet in applause.


Keith Stimpert, senior vice president of public affairs for OFBF, acknowledged that the HSUS would no doubt bring a sizeable war chest to the campaign. However, he noted that Farm Bureau membership would be up for the job.


“It’s a big task, but this is the perfect spot to communicate our message. I have no doubt that should this measure come to the ballot, we can defeat it this November.”