What’s next for the Livestock Care Board?

Buckeye Farm Beat

Issue 2 was approved Nov. 3, and now the details of animal care need to get worked out.

Published on: November 23, 2009

First let me update the last post. Mike Adkins, retiring site manager for the Ohio Farm Science Review, reports record yields in corn, soybeans and wheat on the fields of the Molly Caren Ag Center. Corn averaged in the 205 range including outstanding yields on short season demonstration area fields of 175 bushels per acre. Soybeans nudged ahead of prior highs at 56-57 bushels per acre. The wheat yield came in at 90 bushels per acre.

The last was most astounding to Chuck Gamble,
FSR manager. “Just a few years ago we were shootin’ for 60 bushel wheat,” he says.


Gamble adds that Adkins is the last guy he would want to retire. And about the yields produced by Adkins farm team this year?


“Outstanding, the man is going out on top of his game,” Gamble says.


 

I talked with ODA Director Robert Boggs about implementation of Issue 2 last week. (Catch up – Issue 2 establishes a livestock care board to regulate animal welfare in Ohio and was approved by voters by 64% Nov. 3.)  Boggs, too, is on top of his game. He is ready to take leadership of this resolution as legal chairman, although he notes he speaks as only one member of that board.  A past representative in the state legislature he comes across with the authority of one who understands the legalities of the amendment and his role in the process.


First will come implementing legislation. As the ballot said, the livestock care standards board is authorized to create standards “subject to the authority of the General Assembly.”  So the legislature first must address some key issues like how are the standards to be drawn up and approved?  


Boggs says they will do it with hearings. Lots and lots of hearings. After some “guidance” from the legislature the 13-member panel will be appointed in a “balanced” bi-partisan manner. Then they will be hold hearings across the state.

“I’d expect at least 6 months of hearings,” Boggs said. “We want this to be very thorough and deliberate. There will be no rush to judgment. Anyone who wants to make comments before the board will be welcome. It will be a deliberative rigorous process and we will get input from the citizens of the state. It will be very open and very transparent.”


Sounds like fun, huh?


Well, Boggs has a side agenda to all this and it makes some sense. The hearings will not be just to take input, he said. “We will also use that as a time to educate the public on why we need and why we want safe food and why we want food that is produced locally and not imported from overseas. There is good reason why we must have strong standards for our nutrition and safety.”


Other than the fact that legislature is fairly busy trying to fill a huge hole in the state budget, they will no doubt be eager to get right on this. A couple of other wrinkles still need to be ironed. When we say livestock are we talking about horses and aqualture fish too? And how do you define a “family farm.” After all, no less than 3 members of the board must be family farmers.


There are two ways to look at the family farm issue says one legislative insider. You can use one of the established definitions, like USDA, or view it as something that everyone knows intuitively.


Am I alone on this or does it seem likely the legislature will want to spell that one out? Just for the challenge of it.


How soon will all this happen? “We’d like to see the legislation in place and the board seated by the first of the year,” Boggs said.


The insider applauded the director’s ambition, but predicted we were more likely to see that happen around March or April.