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.”