Rumor has it that Ohio is the next target of the Humane Society of the United States for a voter referendum on animal rights. Reportedly the idea surfaced during a session on animal welfare at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual meeting. Passage of Issue 2 in California has farmers and livestock groups on pins and needles. The Ohio Farm Bureau invited HSUS representatives to their leadership meetings in December to learn more about the group.
The topic also generated much discussion at the Pork Congress last week. One producer explained the dilemma to me this way. “The HSUS used faulty logic to convince California voters. They told them, ‘If you believe in decent treatment of animals, then they need this amount of space to turn around.’ Well, who doesn’t believe in decent treatment of animals? Just because you agree with that statement, it doesn’t make the other one true,” he said.
The Humane Society of the U.S. has assigned a field representative to Ohio. But so far there is no indication they are planning to propose a referendum that would impact livestock production in the state. Still many of the farmers I’ve talked with are terrified by the prospect. Their reasoning is that the 3 Cs, Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati, have the gullible urban population that would fall for HSUS logic.
I’m not convinced they would. In fact I think the HSUS would be making a big mistake coming into a meat and potatoes state like Ohio. Farmers are organized here. The Ohio Farm Bureau has 250,000 some members. Communication among farmers and between farmers and citizens is strong. People here don’t like to be jobless and hungry. We like grilling, and we like steak and pork chops and barbecue chicken. We like fishing and we like to hunt.
This is not the land of nuts and fruits. If the HSUS wants a battle, they probably should consider another state for it. But if this is the place they want to draw a line, it will be interesting to see how their logic fares with Ohioans.
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