Everyone was claiming victory as Gov. Ted Strickland was joined on the podium by Wayne Pacelle, president on the Human Society of the United States and Jack Fisher, executive director of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, to announce a compromise agreement on animal care. The announcement came late June 30 just at the deadline for HSUS to submit a petition calling ballot initiative requiring the newly created Ohio Livestock Care Standard's Board to impose restrictions on confinement, euthanasia and sale of downer animals.
The agreement calls for, phasing out veal crates in 2017; phasing out installation of new hog gestation crates Dec. 31, 2010 with a 15-year grandfather clause for existing hog confinement equipment; implementing a "timeout" on issuing new permits for construction of battery cage units to confine egg-laying hens, but no restrictions on existing facilities for Ohio poultry operations; as well as instituting standards for both downer livestock and euthanasia practices.
The Governor also promised that his administration would back proposals to increase the penalties for cock fighting, back current legislation to regulate dog breeding operations referred to as puppy mills and step up regulation of wild and exotic animals.
"This agreement represents a joint effort to find common ground. As a result, Ohio agriculture will remain strong and animals will be treated better," Strickland said. "Instead of expending tens of millions of dollars and unproductive energy fighting an acrimonious campaign through the fall, both sides will be able to continue investing in our agricultural base and taking care of animals."
Fisher said, "This agreement allows the Ohioans for Livestock Care Board to carry out its mission as approved by the voters last fall. It allows Ohio farmers to continue producing safe, local, affordable food for Ohio consumers."
Pacelle said, "This agreement moves us forward on all of the components of the proposed ballot measure as well as other important advances for animals, too. It is the nature of a negotiation that both sides give a little and everyone feels good in the end. I look forward to working with the Legislature and the Livestock Care Board to see these reforms adopted."
"We have an agreement that I think without question will allow the pork industry to remain viable in the state of Ohio," said Dick Isler, Ohio Pork Producers Council executive vice president. "Given that animal agriculture is constantly changing, we will always find new and better ways to do things and I think that's also true with animal housing."
When asked what motivated the settlement Fisher added that last year's work creating a livestock care standards board demonstrated how much "cash and human capital" it takes to run a campaign. Agricultural groups spent between $5 and $6 million on Issue 2 last year.
"This preserves the integrity of the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board," Fisher said. "We want to set a national model (for the board) and share that model with everyone."
All sides noted that removing the uncertainty of the outcome of ballot decision was important in maintaining a stable business climate for Ohio agriculture.