A proposed state constitutional amendment in Ohio is directed at the ballot initiative put forth in that state by the Humane Society of the United States. The amendment would establish a 13-member Livestock Care Standards Board. The board would be charged with developing and enforcing guidelines for livestock and poultry care. Joint resolutions proposed late last week in the House and Senate, if passed, would get the amendment before voters on Nov. 3.
Ohio Governor Ted Strickland and legislators from both parties and representatives of animal agriculture support the amendment. However, the Humane Society of the United States says the amendment would thwart meaningful reform in the housing of farm animals. Paul Shapiro of HSUS claims this is a constitutional power grab on behalf of big agribusiness.
Keith Stimpert of the Ohio Farm Bureau points out that the proposed animal care board would pull together the best expertise and operate in full public view. The council would include three family farmers, two veterinarians, a food safety expert, a representative of a local humane society, two members from statewide farm organizations, the dean of an Ohio agriculture college and two members representing Ohio consumers. The director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture would serve as an ex-officio member.