HSUS backs new livestock reform initiative in Ohio


A new campaign to redefine livestock housing in Ohio was announced Feb. 1.

Columbus, Ohio

-- A ballot initiative that would further define what livestock housing systems would be permitted in Ohio was announced Feb. 1 by collaborating humane groups.

A petition was submitted to the Ohio Attorney General by Ohioans for Humane Farms, says The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). It proposes a ballot measure for November 2010 in which voters could vote to force the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board — formed through a 2009 ballot measure and currently in the organizational stage — to adopt certain minimum standards to prevent “cruel and inhumane treatment of farm animals, enhance food safety, protect the environment and strengthen Ohio family farms,” says HSUS.

About 400,000 signatures are needed to get the proposal on the November ballot, and HSUS says the group will seek 600,000 signatures. The petition is being backed by HSUS, Farm Sanctuary, the Ohio Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Toledo Area Humane Society, Geauga Humane Society, Ohio League of Humane Voters, Center for Food Safety, United Farm Workers, Consumer Federation of America, and the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

HSUS did not support the ballot measure that created the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board last fall, and the Ohio Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA) says this petition was an “expected move” by HSUS, which has proclaimed a nationwide campaign to improve livestock housing in the U.S. OVMA has not issued a response to the petition yet, but says one will be forthcoming.

If adopted by voters, the ballot measure would require the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board to establish minimum humane standards for farm animals, including prohibition from tethering or confining veal calves, gestating sows or egg-laying hens in a manner that prevents them from moving freely. The amendment also would require human killing of cows and pigs, prohibit strangulation as a form of euthanasia, and prohibit the sale of sick or injured cows or calves. These standards would have be to be put in pace within six years of the ballot measure’s adoption and would require violators to spend a year in jail or face a $1,000 fine.

HSUS-backed measures similar to the one being proposed in Ohio were adopted in California and Michigan in 2009 and in several other states previously. The American Veterinary Medical Association recently announced a new position against using ballot initiatives for animal welfare reform.

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