From the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund:
- By, now you've heard about Ohio Constitution Issue 2. You've gotten the robo calls, received the glossy postcard, and heard the radio ads, all telling you that Issue 2 is about "safe, local food." 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:
- Issue 2 AMENDS the state constitution to 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.
- While Issue 2 requires the membership of several "family farmers" on the Board, this is not a safeguard to prevent the panel from being overtaken by corporate agribusiness and factory farming interests. While there is no legal definition for a family farmer in the U.S., the USDA has stated that 98% of all factory farms are operated through what would beconsidered "family farms."
- 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.
This is an abuse of Ohio's constitution and our liberty. The issue is backed by major agri-business interests seeking protection from national animal welfare groups working to phase out problematic animal production practices like battery cages for chickens. The newly proposed board would give 13 political appointees absolute power to decide rules on animal welfare, potentially reshaping regulations on how animals are raised, tracked and traced. Currently, animal agriculture is regulated by the Ohio Dept of Agriculture, which makes rules through a formal process that requires public input.
This new board would make decisions independent of public input, with no review, no forum for public comment, and no avenue for appeal. The board's decision is final!! They will be the ones to determine proper and "humane" animal care - we do not want a board that supports CAFOs being able to dictate their version of animal care (confinement, hormones, antibiotics, genetically modified feed, expensive animal ID systems) to the local farmers we know and trust.
We fear that passage of Issue 2 would eventually put small local farmers out of business due to expensive regulations imposed on them by the Livestock Care board.
The argument most commonly used in support of Issue 2 is California's 2007 passage of Proposition 2, Standards for Confining Farm Animals, which requires by January 2015 that certain farm animals be confined only in ways that allow them to lie down, stand up, fully extend their limbs, and turn around freely. Florida, Arizona, Oregon and Colorado have passed similar legislation.
Issue 2 supporters are using this as a scare tactic, claiming that if Ohio doesn't pass Issue 2, the Humane Society of the United States will "come in and attempt to outlaw meat production and make everyone vegans." The people of Ohio would not tolerate that. Ohio already has an alarming number of factory farms-and that number will increase if this Board eases regulations on animal production.
According to the Ohio EPA, the state has close to 200 factory farms, including four beef operations with more than 3000 animals, 29 dairy operations with more than 1000 animals, and a staggering 98 poultry and egg-laying operations with more than 100,000 birds each, including 9 with more than a million birds. Consumers are discovering the real costs of cheap food (Time Magazine Aug 31, 2009) and it is dangerous to use government to silence "WE THE PEOPLE." A vote for issue to is a vote to silence the people!