Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Breaking News - HSUS Off Ballot this Fall

HSUS won’t be on the ballot this November with an initiative that could cause chaos in Ohio’s, and Darke County’s, agriculture industry, as it has in California, Michigan, Florida and other states. The agreement was reached at 3 p.m. today, and did not include participation from the Farm & Dairy industry. What do you think?

Compromise reached: HSUS off the ballot in November
by Kristy Foster

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Battery cages, gestation crates and veal crates will be phased out changing production practices on many farms in the years to come.

Compromise reached

The Humane Society of the United States, Gov. Ted Strickland and Jack Fisher, executive vice president of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, announce a compromise has been reached between the organizations. There will be no ballot initiative regarding livestock on the November ballot.
In a surprise move, Strickland held a press conference to announce the deal late in the afternoon June 30, the date in which the HSUS was supposed to hand over the signatures to the secretary of state’s office for the proposed ballot initiative.

Unique agreement

The agreement itself is unique from others reached in other states because it also promises new legislation for dog breeding kennels, cock fighting and exotic animals.
Strickland said the compromise was good for Ohio agriculture and for animal welfare. He added it is a common sense solution and did not think it was in Ohio’s best interest to proceed with the proposed ballot initiative.

The deal

The compromise as stated:
• Veal crates will be phased out by 2017.
• There will no more permits issued for new pork operations using gestation crates as of Dec. 31, 2010. The gestation crates already in use will be phased out in 15 years or by 2026.
• There will be no new permits issued for battery cages used in poultry operations. A timeline has not been established for the phase out of the cages. California, Arizona and Florida are using a six-year limit on phasing out the gestation, veal and battery cages.
• The agreement also reportedly calls for standards for downer animals and how farmers can euthanize livestock on their farms.

Stronger penalties and regulations

In addition, Strickland has promised to get the legislature to consider stronger puppy mill/kennel regulations.
• Also, stronger penalties and legislation for cockfighting.
• And action for stronger regulation against exotic animals. There will be some grandfather clauses to this legislation regarding exotic animals.

Statements made

Strickland said the deal has the support of the steering committee of the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board, which includes members from each of the commodity groups. He said it is a balance between animal welfare and economics and still maintains the integrity of the board.
He added it was the best solution because millions would have been spent on both sides fighting, and now agriculture groups can make better use of the money, spending it on research.
“Agriculture is Ohio’s single largest industry and we’ve arrived at a good solution and resolution for Ohio,” Strickland said.
Fisher said the HSUS and OFBF do think differently but they both came to the table to represent the interests of Ohioans. He added the agreement recognizes the wishes of the voters expressed in last year’s election and enables the OLCSB to carry out their work.
In addition, it adds certainty for Ohio farmers that a ballot initiative on this November ballot would not have provided.
Fisher stressed that the resolution will allow the board the opportunity to fill its mission, which is to create standards for livestock.
Wayne Pacelle, chief executive officer of HSUS, agreed with Fisher that the uncertainty of what would happen in a ballot initiative for either side made the compromise possible.
He said the organization has been at odds with a number of issues but through good faith discussion and the realization that animal welfare matters, a compromise was reached.

Late notice

The Farm and Dairy received the press release around 3 p.m. and the press conference was held at 4:30 p.m. The Farm and Dairy was unable to participate in the actual conference due to the governor’s office not having a call-in line available and the late notice prohibiting staff from attending the meeting.

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