OVMA calls for more veterinarian representation on Ohio livestock board

OVMA calls for more veterinarian representation on Ohio livestock board

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Jun 28, 2009
By dvm360.com staff
Columbus, Ohio -- A ballot issue that would create a statewide board standardizing livestock housing is a step in the right direction, according to the Ohio Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA).

But the group would like to see more than two veterinarians represented on the 13-member board, according to Jack Advent, OVMA executive director. It is one issue that is tempering association support for the measure. The November ballot issue, approved by the Ohio House and Ohio Senate, is a pre-emptive move to block a ballot initiative by the Human Society of the United States (HSUS). If conditions in Ohio didn't change, HSUS hinted it would push the ballot initiative.

OVMA President Dr. John Weale testified before the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee and Dr. Brad Garrison, OVMA food-animal committee chairman, testified before the Senate Agriculture Committee.

OVMA released a position statement on the issue stating that it "supports meaningful and responsible efforts within livestock production which enhance animal care and well-being, food safety and the safety of those employed within animal agriculture."

"The creation of a regulatory entity which would help advance reasonable animal care standards that rely upon the expertise of those trained to evaluate environments appropriate to an animal's care and use reflects positive developments in public policy," according to the OVMA position statement. "Any such entity should not preclude but welcome the opportunity to include future advancements in the scientific knowledge of species specific care that also reflects the animal's biological needs and behavioral natures."

The OVMA and the Ohio Farm Bureau and other interested parties met with the HSUS earlier this year for a "dialogue" regarding current housing practices in Ohio. The HSUS says it is considering a ballot initiative, similar to one approved by voters in California that allows criminal charges to be brought against farmers for confining animals in a way that prohibits them from moving around.

The California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) stayed out of the discussion until four months before the election, when it came out in support of the initiative.

"We've not formally taken an issue of support," Advent says. "Some aspects of the proposal we wouldn't find as ideal, but we think there are positives to it."

Still, modifications, such as the number of veterinarians on the board, need to be examined.