Details of Ohio’s Livestock Care Standards Proposal
The proposed Livestock Care Standards Proposal will go to Ohio voters this Fall. Following a lengthy battle over the state’s budget, the House and Senate agreed on July 13, 2009, by joint resolution to place a constitutional issue on livestock care before Ohio voters on November 3rd, 2009. Each legislative body had passed different versions of the proposal in the past few weeks. The final version adopted on July 13 by the legislature proposes an amendment to the Ohio Constitution that creates the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board, to include:
- The director of the department of agriculture, who shall chair the Board;
- Ten members appointed by the Governor with Senate approval, as follows: one family farm representative, one member knowledgeable about food safety in Ohio; two members representing statewide farmer organizations; one veterinarian licensed in Ohio; the State Veterinarian; the dean of an Ohio college or university’s agriculture department; two members of the public representing Ohio consumers; one member representing a county humane society; two family farmers appointed by the Speaker of the House and the Senate President.
- No more than seven members of the same political party.
- Grants the Board exclusive authority to establish standards for the care and well-being of livestock and poultry, subject only to the authority of the Ohio General Assembly, and requires the Board to consider factors including but not limited to: agricultural best management practices, bio-security, disease prevention, animal morbidity and mortality data, food safety practices, and the protection of local, affordable food supplies for consumers.
- Delegates authority for administering and enforcing the standards to the department of agriculture.
- Gives the Ohio General Assembly the power to enact laws necessary to carry out the purposes of the constitutional amendment.
- States that no other provision of the Constitution shall limit or impair the power granted by the constitutional amendment.
You may view the joint resolution at http://www.legislature.state.oh.us/res.cfm?ID=128_SJR_6_AS.
Note that Michigan’s legislature is currently considering a proposal to address farm animal care. The proposed Animal Industry Act grants authority for regulating livestock welfare to the department of agriculture, adopts state animal care guidelines, establishes an auditing and certification program, and creates an Animal Care Advisory Council. A summary of the Michigan proposal, introduced in late June, is available here: http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2009-2010/billanalysis/House/pdf/2009-HLA-5127-1.pdf.
— this detailed report compiled by Peggy Kirk Hall, Director, Agricultural & Resource Law Program at The Ohio State University Extension