Ohio livestock care board standards set
The Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board was approved by Ohio voters to address animal welfare standards for the state in November 2009 with 64 percent in favor. The governor was charged with naming 10 of the 13 board members, with the speakers of the house and senate president choosing two others. Ohio Department of Agriculture Director Robert Boggs will serve as the 13th board member. The state legislature also was to set out rules and legislation for the implementation of the board.
House Bill 414 was introduced in the Ohio House of Representatives to govern the board Jan. 19 and was passed and sent to the governor for approval March 29. Gov. Ted Strickland signed the bill March 31 and announced his board appointments April 6.
The ten members appointed by the governor are:
• Tony Forshey of Columbus, state veterinarian for the Ohio Department of Agriculture and co-chair of the Swine Update Program in the Department of Preventative Medicine at The Ohio State University (OSU) and chair of the Ohio Veterinary Medical Association Swine Subcommittee to the Ohio Department of Agriculture;
• Jerry Lahmers of Newcomerstown, owner and operator of a family farm that includes a cow/calf feedlot and grain operations, 29-year veterinarian and president of the Tuscarawas County Farm Bureau and the Tuscarawas County Parks Department;
• Leon Weaver, DVM, of Montpelier, owner and operator of Bridgewater Dairy and member of the board of directors for the Ohio Livestock Coalition and the Ohio Dairy Industry Forum;
• Jeffrey LeJeune of Wooster, DVM, associate professor for Food and Animal health and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center at OSU since 2007 and chair of the Agriculture Animal Care and Use Committee at OSU;
• Jeff Wuebker of Versailles, co-owner of Wuebker Farms since 2001, president of the Ohio Soybean Association and member of both the Ohio Corn Grower’s Association and the Ohio Cattleman’s Association;
• Bobby Moser of Dublin, vice president for agricultural administration and dean of the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at OSU since 1991;
• Harold Dates of Cincinnati, president and Chief Executive Officer for the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Cincinnati since 1986;
• Lisa M. Hamler-Fugitt of Reynoldsburg, executive director of the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks and legislative liaison for the Ohio Alliance of Boys and Girls Clubs;
• Robert Cole of Gahanna, a 33-year employee of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, now retired; and
• Stacey Atherton of Newark, co-owner of Shipley Farms since 2009 and member of the Ohio Dairy Producers and the Ohio Farm Bureau.
Ohio Senate President Bill Harris appointed Bill Moody, a Fredericksburg farmer and former Ohio Department of Natural Resources administrator, but Speaker of the House Armond Budish had not announced his member selection by press time.
The legislation passed to govern the new board included an “emergency clause” so it could take effect immediately without the governor’s signature. Some areas of concern, according to the Ohio Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA) are that no permanent funding system for the new board is included in the legislation and organic farmers will be allowed exemptions to the board’s rules based on federal organic standards. Additionally, the legislation only allows agricultural inspection agents to enter livestock operation on the agreement of the owner or by court order. But OVMA did support language in the bill that calls for the new board to consider “accepted medical practices” as it adopts future rules.
Another livestock care ballot measure could come before Ohio voters this November, as The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is backing a petition that would ask voters to require the new board to adopt certain minimum standards in regard to farm animal treatment and food safety. HSUS did not support the November 2009 creation the livestock board, and OVMA says the petition was an “expected move by HSUS, which has proclaimed a national campaign to improve livestock housing in the U.S. OVMA says it has taken a neutral issue on the new petition.
But Ohio may be an example state in this kind of legislation, as several other states are considering similar livestock care boards after the passage of last fall’s ballot measure in Ohio.