With passage of House Bill 414, the establishment of the nation’s first livestock care board, in Ohio, moves ahead with the governor expected to sign the authorizing legislation in the coming weeks.

“I applaud the legislature for its hard work in passing this important piece of legislation that will further strengthen Ohio agriculture, and I am excited to serve Ohioans in my new role as chairman of the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board,” says Ohio Department of Agriculture Director Robert Boggs. “I am confident that creating comprehensive livestock care standards will not only assure better livestock care, but will also promote safe and affordable food, help prevent the outbreak of both animal and human diseases and will encourage local food production.”

The 13-member board is being created as a result of Ohio voters overwhelmingly supporting passage of Issue 2 last November.

Dick Isler, executive vice president of the Ohio Pork Producers Council, believes the board should be given time to act. “I think the animal care standards board will work as quickly as they can start bringing their thoughts together on gestation stalls for pigs, crates for veal calves and cages for chickens. Those are the issues we are under attack for so we certainly want our board to take action.”

Isler points out that the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has announced plans to gather signatures for a ballot initiative this fall. Their goal is to usurp authority of the livestock care standards board, replacing it with language of Proposition 2 passed in California, plus address euthanasia and downer cow issues.

Isler says Ohio already follows euthanasia standards approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association. And the issue of downer cows entering the foodchain has already been addressed at the federal level.

“HSUS is trying to trick Ohio voters on some of the things that have already been addressed,” he says. “This is the first attempt in the United States to establish an animal care standards board. We feel like Ohioans ought to be the ones deciding this issue, not outside animal rights groups.”

Isler says Ohio voters have already decided this issue with their vote last November, and they will do so again this November, if the ballot initiative comes up for a vote.

A steering committee has been formed to campaign in defense of Issue 2, comprised of pork, poultry, beef and dairy cattle, corn and soybean groups, working in concert with the Ohio Farm Bureau.

“We appreciate the nationwide support that we got for Issue 2 last year, and this year we are going to have to dig deeper to defend what we did last year.

“The bottom line is we in agriculture need to gain back control of the animal care issue to convince consumers that farmers are the animal care group – not the HSUS,” Isler says.