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ERIE COUNTY, OH – Ohio’s Issue 2

October 31, 2009

Ohio’s Issue 2

Published by the Purdue Beef Team of Purdue University & Disseminated by The Erie Wire
By Laura Schierhoff

In February, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) met with members of Ohio’s livestock industry to discuss passing humane legislation in that state.  HSUS had its eye on Ohio to pass legislation to ban the use of poultry cages, veal crates and gestation stalls.  Agribusiness in Ohio knew this was not such a far fetched idea, given California’s Proposition 2 landslide ballot-initiative win last November.  Proposition 2 banned the confinement of farm animals in a manner that does not allow them to turn around freely, lie down, stand up, and fully extend their limbs.  (Arizona and Florida have also passed similar measures.)  The meeting was said to be “extremely cordial” according to a member of the Ohio Farm Bureau.  However, with the fear of something like Proposition 2 going on the ballot in November, big agriculture in Ohio was scared.

In anticipation of HSUS’s ballot initiative, the Ohio Farm Bureau and other agribusiness leaders approached state lawmakers.  The result was the House and Senate proposing a constitutional amendment, which will be placed on the November ballot in the form of Issue 2.  Issue 2 is a voter referendum to create an Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board.  This would add a provision to the state Constitution, establishing a board, which would set standards for the care and well-being of livestock statewide.  The governor and legislature would appoint members (within the parameters of the text of the amendment) and the state agriculture director would lead the panel.  Given that it was agribusiness that lobbied for this amendment in the House and Senate, there is no doubt that the board created will be industry dominated.  The agriculture industry is calling this oversight, while some animal welfare advocates are analogizing it to the “fox guarding the henhouse.”  Rep. Michael J. Skindell, D-Lakewood, has said “[I]t’s really about agribusiness interests working with the legislature to block regulations requiring more humane treatment of animals — allowing a chicken to spread its wings in a cage, for example, or a dairy cow to lie down in the barn.”  The board would have far-reaching power to set standards for livestock and poultry care, food safety, and animal well-being.  It would also have minimal legislative oversight.

There is no Prop 2 in Ohio yet, and if if Issue 2 is passed, there likely never will be.  The constitutionally created board will be the decision makers on animal welfare and will be insulated by the Constitution to pass whatever laws they deem necessary.  If Issue 2 is passed, any future initiatives in Ohio, dealing with farm animals, can be deemed pre-emptive and therefore unnecessary.  The effects of Issue 2 could be not only to preempt an Ohio version of Prop 2, but could also have far-reaching power that is not being discussed.  The agriculture industry effects more than just animals. Issues concerning the environment, workers and labor law are all affected by the agriculture industry. Putting the power to make and pass laws dealing with a huge industry in the hands of a few does not sound like democracy at its finest.

There are two very strong issues at play here:  1) The agriculture industry in Ohio that views HSUS as an out-of-state special interest group that wants to tell farmers how to do their job; and 2) An animal welfare group, with members all over the country that seeks to end inhumane treatment of animals.  Perhaps the solution to better animal welfare is neither initiatives like Prop 2 or Issue 2.  In a perfect world, couldn’t farmers and animals advocates work together?  After all, farmers often argue the point that of course they want to take care of the well-being of the animals, since they are their livelihood.  Yet, isn’t that what HSUS was trying to do when they met with the Ohio Farm Bureau in February?  HSUS was trying to open dialogue and start healthy communication.  Why can’t there be a collaborative relationship between the opposing sides?  Ohio’s legislators have made it perfectly clear that dialogue is not what they want. They have not only backed away from discussions with the largest animal welfare group in the nation, they have shut the door on fellow Ohioans. By creating a board (stacked in favor of agriculture) that decides animal welfare issues, the Constitutional amendment will take away the democratic voice given to citizen-based initiatives.  People (including Ohioans) want to know more about what is being fed to the animals they eat and how they are treated.  This amendment would take away the transparency in that process.  Arguments, such as, whether crating/caging animals is bad for the food supply will never be addressed by this pro-agribusiness board.  The argument for creating this amendment, was that these issues should not be determined by one biased side or group.  Unfortunately in Ohio, that is exactly what will happen with the passage of Issue 2.  Hopefully Ohio citizens will realize the effects of Issue 2 and vote no in November.

Links

http://www.sos.state.oh.us/SOS/elections/IssueProcBallotBd/BallotBoard.aspx#Issues

http://www.sos.state.oh.us/sos/upload/ballotboard/2009/2-final_language.pdf

*Video explaining how we need an OH Livestock Board to help promote what already works for small farms.

Brenda – The Issue 2 Spokesperson

Picture 96

OEFFA Asks You to VOTE NO ON ISSUE 2 on November 3!
By, now you’ve heard about Issue 2. You’ve seen the yard signs, gotten the robo calls, and heard the radio ads, all telling you that Issue 2 is about “safe, local food.” And, on the surface, Issue 2 sounds great—creating a Livestock Care Standards Board that will oversee and livestock care in Ohio and protect local foods.
However, Issue 2 will have the opposite effect.
Here are the real facts about Issue 2:

  • Issue 2 would create a Livestock Care Standards Board, stacked with Big Ag and factory farm supporters, which would have sweeping authority to make decisions related to farms and food in Ohio that would have the force of law. The Board would have largely unchecked power to override any act by the Ohio Department of Agriculture and the Ohio Assembly.
  • Issue 2 will create a Livestock Care Standards Board with no accountability to voters. Their decisions will be final. There is no further review or evaluation of the standard, no established forum for public comment, and no ability to appeal their decisions.
  • Issue 2 serves the economic interests of factory farms, opening the door for the proliferation of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) in Ohio.
  • Issue 2 emphasizes the need of the livestock industry to provide “affordable food,” yet ignores its hidden costs, including environmental contamination, human health impacts, and the loss of rural communities.

The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association has been Ohio’s voice for sustainable agriculture and local, organic foods for more than 30 years. We represent farmers, ranchers, gardeners, and conscientious eaters who value the importance of livestock in sustainable agricultural production systems and in providing prosperity for Ohio’s farm families.

We Need Your Help!
But, we can’t do this alone. Big Ag is spending millions of dollars to pass Issue 2, producing glossy ads, websites and yard signs. If we’re going to defeat Issue 2, we need you to help!

  1. Vote— Go to http://www.oeffa.org/alerts.php or http://www.sos.state.oh.us/SOS/ for more information.
  2. Send a Letter to the Editor–Submitting Letters to the Editor or LTEs is a powerful way to keep the drumbeat going on Issue 2 through Election Day. To defeat Issue 2, we need a steady chorus of voices continually submitting letters every day through November 3 to keep the issue in the news and help to spread the word. For tips on writing LTEs, contact information for some selected newspapers, and talking points, go to  http://www.oeffa.org/alerts.php.
  3. Send an email to all your friends—Let them know why Issue 2 is so dangerous. Go to http://www.oeffa.org/alerts.php for a sample email or forward this email to your friends and family.
  4. Put signs in your car and house windows—You can download a sign at http://www.ohioact.org/downloads/ or create your own.
  5. Put a sign in your yard—You can download a sign at http://www.ohioact.org/downloads/. At http://www.vistaprint.com, you can easily upload the sign image and have them ship you a sign for about $14. Fed Ex Kinkos charges $29 to print outdoor signs (frame not included). Many other online websites give good rates if you’re printing more than 25 signs.
  6. Put the word out on Facebook, Twitter and your blog—For good talking points, go to http://www.oeffa.org/alerts.php or http://www.ohioact.org.
  7. Give someone a ride to the polls—Make sure your neighbors have a way to get to the polls or set up a neighborhood carpool to make sure everyone who wants to vote is able to.
  8. Post a sign at your business—Put up a sign at your farmers’ market booth, on your office door, or in your store window. Then, tell people why you oppose Issue 2.
  9. Host a neighborhood potluck—Invite friends and neighbors over to talk about Issue 2 and to share a meal. Then, figure out ways you can work together to get the word out, like joining together to order a bulk order of yard signs, or organizing a Get Out the Vote (GOTV) carpool.
  10. Volunteer—Ohio ACT, a coalition of groups including OEFFA, is looking for volunteers to help on the ground. Go to http://www.ohioact.org/tell-a-neighbor/ to sign up.

Commit to Help Defeat Issue 2
Pledge to help ensure that Issue 2 is defeated on November 3!
Commit to 3-6 of these actions and become a Local Foods and Farm Defender—We’ll thank you for all to see on OEFFA Direct, OEFFA’s listserve.
Commit to 7-10 of these actions and become a Local Foods and Farm Hero—We’ll thank you in print in OEFFA’s Late Fall newsletter and on OEFFA Direct.
To pledge your support, send an email to oeffa@oeffa.org with a list of the actions you’re committing to and your contact information.

Thanks in advance for all your help!

Lauren N. Ketcham
Communications & Membership Services Coordinator
Ohio Ecological Food & Farm Association (OEFFA)
41 Croswell Road
Columbus, Ohio 43214
Phone: 614-421-2022 Ext. 203
Fax: 614-421-2011
lauren@oeffa.org
http://www.oeffa.org

Message from the editor:

Wolf and Sheep

Public relations is a powerful tool of persuasion, and the credible language of today is molded from the fabric of so-called “experts”, “specialists” and “analysts”. “Wolf and Sheep” are advisories to show how corporations, citizens and/or government are using “non-rational propaganda” to spread false messages in order to benefit their own market interests. These “Intellectual Lemons” (unreliable vehicles of knowledge) are the tactic companies use to lie about their products and disentangle community efforts (these tactics are not limited to products, but are also heavily used to pass euphemistic legislation).

Please be aware of the wolves amongst our flock.



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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Steve Rohr permalink
    October 5, 2009 10:40 am

    I’m sure you have giving issue 2 a great deal of thought. Unfortunately, I have to disagree with your notion the negotiation with the US humane society is the best way to go. Their agenda goes much deeper that just the “rights of animals”. They would be happy if we just left the animals roam free and adopt a vegetarian diet. This is very evident on their website. I really don’t think you are going to negotiate anything with them. It is going to be their way or the highway. They will come in make their drastic changes and we will see farms going out of business and food prices rise.
    I’m sure I won’t change your mind on this since you are adamant that negotiation is the answer.
    I do feel we should control our own destiny and not let outside interest do it for us. After all we have one of the best agricultural colleges in the nation.
    Best regards

  2. October 5, 2009 12:35 pm

    Hi Steve,

    Issue 2 is advocating itself to promote “Safe Local Ohio Food”, when we have already, from our small farms, the ability to purchase “Safe Local Ohio Food” every season.

    Farmers are not in need of a regulatory framework that would serve to exclude and include safe or unsafe practices. Farmers are in need of state support to open and expand regional annual markets where local customers can purchase directly from farms, and an infrastructure to a regional supply chain.

    To visit the problem at large with our current supply system, see: http://www.msu.edu/~howardp/

  3. Deb Berlekamp permalink
    October 20, 2009 10:38 am

    Thank you for making the public aware of an issue that,on the surface, appears to be logical and good, but may very well lead to lack of representation for those who care about the origins of their food supply. We all should be wary of what big money can buy; i.e., seats on an advisory board.
    I come from a family of farmers, and will vote NO on this issue.

  4. John permalink
    October 22, 2009 6:33 am

    I can not speak for anyone else other than myself as to how this issue should be voted upon for which I am voting NO.

    No matter what issues are on the ballot now or for that matter what issues will be on the ballot in the future one thing remains constant people vote for the government they deserve and I my fellow Ohioans am for the smallest form of government possible.

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