Ohio Against Constitutional Takeover (Ohio ACT), a new coalition representing Ohio farmers and consumers, has emerged to prevent corporate agribusiness from cementing its influence into the Ohio state constitution through the Nov. 3 ballot initiative known as Issue 2. The coalition was created to oppose Issue 2, which would amend the Ohio Constitution to create an appointed Board with unchecked power over livestock regulation.
Ohio ACT, a partnership that includes the Ohio Farmers Union, Ohio Ecological Food and Farming Association, Ohio Sierra Club, and Food & Water Watch, will host two town hall meetings in October in Cleveland and Columbus, to discuss why Issue 2 is destructive for Ohio farmers and consumers.
"Issue 2 will create a permanent place in the Ohio Constitution for Ohio's largest agribusiness interests," says Roger Wise, president of the Ohio Farmers Union. "There is a way to achieve common-sense oversight without changing the Constitution and without giving the Board unchecked authority that we will likely regret further down the road."
The group notes that livestock regulation is currently enforced by the Ohio Department of Agriculture, whose formal rulemaking process allows for public input. They say electing this board into the state constitution gives it the power to override any act by the Ohio Department of Agriculture, the state legislature, and most other initiatives or referendums. Proponents of Issue 2, who are running a multi-million dollar campaign, represent corporate agribusiness, including the Ohio Farm Bureau, Ohio Cattlemen's Association, and Ohio Pork Producer's Council.
"Issue 2 will shut out Ohio consumers from future discussions about how their food is produced," says Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. "The proponents of Issue 2 stand to gain by removing the democratic process and consumer input from how livestock regulations are made."
Ohio ACT coalition claims it is composed of grassroots organizations that represent tens of thousands of Ohioans including farmers and consumers.
To view the complete list of coalition partners and details of Issue 2, please visit: www.ohioact.org.