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CME: Voters Approve State Issue 2 in Ohio

05 November 2009

US - Ohio’s livestock and poultry industries won a resounding victory at the polls on Tuesday when voters approved State Issue 2 by a margin of 64 per cent to 36 per cent, write Steve Meyer and Len Steiner in their Daily Livestock Report (DLR) for 4 November.

State Issue 2 established a state Livestock Care Standards Board that will oversee production practices and regulations in Ohio. The board will have 13 members comprised of “representatives of Ohio family farms, farming organizations, food safety exports, veterinarians, consumers, the dean of the agriculture department at an Ohio college or university and a county humane society representative.” Ohio is the nations second largest egg-producing state so any restrictions placed on layer cages would be damaging to say the least.

The victory is about the first that can be claimed by livestock, poultry and meat interests in the ongoing battle over animal welfare and rights issues. Florida, Arizona and California all passed constitutional amendments banning gestation stalls, veal calf stalls and layer cages. Oregon’s legislature passed a statute imposing similar restrictions and producers in Colorado and Michigan forged a deal with animal rights groups that would phase out these practices over 10 years. Ohio’s livestock and poultry industries believed that they would be targeted very soon by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) since such a high proportion of Ohio’s population resides in three large metropolitan areas — Cleveland, Cincinnati and Columbus. We presume that the board will be appointed by the governor but the actual language on the ballot (which can be found by clicking here) makes no provisions for the appointment process.

The measure does not preclude future action by HSUS which has already said it intends to seek more restrictive regulations either through legislation or the ballot box. It does, however, provide a fresh approach for satisfying livestock and poultry industry critics. Whether that approach succeeds remains to be seen. It has at least put one in the win column and did so by a strong majority. The ballot initiatives to ban certain practices (mentioned above) had all passed by similar majorities.

Daily Livestock Report - Copyright © 2008 CME. All rights reserved.

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