Friday, June 18, 2010

The Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board is Hard at Work

Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board
Issue 2 to create the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board was passed in November 2009, the implementing legislation outlining how the Board would function passed the Ohio legislature in March 2010 and the Board members were appointed in April 2010. This Board is charged with establishing statewide standards governing the care and well-being of livestock while promoting food safety, preventing animal and human diseases and encouraging local food production.

The Livestock Care Standards Board recently launched a new website at www.ohiolivestockcarestandardsboard.org. This website features meeting notices and minutes, board member bios, the latest news regarding the board's work and contact information.

In May 2010, the Board held six regional public listening sessions. During their June 1st meeting, they approved forming a technical/research committee which will consist of animal scientists and have subcommittees that represent specific species such as dairy, poultry and equine to name a few. The Board is meeting every other week throughout the summer with the goal of developing standards by fall 2010. The Board meetings are open to the public and public comment will be accepted.

The 13-member board is a diverse group with the expertise to make informed decisions while considering all aspects of food production from animal welfare to food safety to economics. For a list of Board members, go to http://www.ohiolivestockcarestandardsboard.org/content/board/about_board.aspx.

The Board members will serve staggering 3-year terms with no compensation. To ensure political diversity, no more than seven members can be of the same political party.

The Board has the authority to establish standards for livestock care and the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) is responsible for investigating and enforcing those standards.

The Board is doing important work. There should be standards for animal care and these standards must be created by a group of experts with the best interest of Ohio’s consumers, farmers and animals in mind, not groups pushing a political agenda. It’s important to remember the large majority us involved in livestock production already implement high standards on our farms with excellent animal care at the top of the list. As much as we would like to eliminate all animal abuse, there will be isolated cases of poor animal care. When those cases arise, the individuals involved should be reported quickly and handled by the proper authorities.

For those of you not familiar with Ohio’s Issue 2 or the Livestock Care Standards Board, here’s some background. In November 2009, Ohio voters passed Issue 2 with a 64% yes vote. Issue 2 passed in 87 of the 88 counties in Ohio. The passage of Issue 2 approved the appointment of a statewide board to set guidelines for food animal care – the Ohio Livestock Care Standard Board. The purpose of the Board is to assure Ohio families continue to have a safe, local, affordable food supply. It brings together the best Ohio expertise in animal care to ensure excellent care of the state’s flocks and herds, reinforces consumer confidence in Ohio-raised food and maintains the viability of Ohio agriculture.

As dairy producers and consumers, my family supports the work of this Board and we hope you will to. Check out www.ohiolivestockcarestandardsboard.org to learn more about how this Board is working on behalf of all Ohioans.

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