Livestock Care Standards Board Will Help Strengthen and Protect Ohio’s Agriculture Industry
This past November, Ohio voters approved State Issue 2, which sought to establish the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board. This bipartisan group would be tasked with creating and enforcing guidelines for the care and well-being of livestock and poultry in Ohio. As agriculture is our state’s number one industry, assuring consumers that their food was raised responsibly and safely will help strengthen the relationship between famers and the public.
Recently, the General Assembly approved House Bill 414, which outlines the composition of the Livestock Care Standards Board as well as its operation. The Director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture will serve as the chairperson for the board and will be joined by 12 other members representing family farmers, consumers, academia, local humane societies and statewide farm organizations, as well as the state veterinarian and food safety experts. Board members will serve three-year terms.
The board must meet at least three times a year. At these meetings, members will review current and proposed rules governing the care of livestock and poultry. These rules must take into consideration a number of factors, including best management practices, disease prevention, food safety practices and the protection of local, affordable food supplies for consumers.
To help keep the rule-making process as open and transparent as possible, all of the rules proposed by the Livestock Care Standards Board must go through the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review, which consists of lawmakers from both the Ohio Senate and the Ohio House. This will ensure that members of the public have the opportunity to comment on the proposals before any action is taken.
During the debate on State Issue 2, questions were raised about the impact of the Livestock Care Standards Board on local humane societies. House Bill 414 ensures that local humane societies will continue to enjoy all the authority and responsibility they possessed before the passage of Issue 2 while encouraging them to work cooperatively with the board when livestock care issues are involved.
House Bill 414 was recently signed into law by the Governor, but this is not the end of the discussion on the care of livestock in Ohio. The Humane Society of the United States is currently working to place a statewide issue on the ballot that would put in place new regulations for the confinement of livestock such as cows and pigs. These proposals were drafted with little input from Ohio farmers and those involved in the state’s agriculture industry, and could cause the food costs to rise and increase costs for farmers. This type of debate is one of the main reasons the Livestock Care Standards Board was formed, as it allows Ohioans to decide what is best for our state’s farms, rather than outside organizations.
Maintaining a strong relationship between farmers and the public is essential as consumers are taking an ever-increasing interest in where their food comes from and how it was raised. The Livestock Care Standards Board will work cooperatively with members of the agriculture industry and consumers to ensure that the animals that provide food for Ohioans and others across the country are well-cared for on the farm.
Please do not hesitate to contact my office if you have questions or concerns about any state-related matter. You can reach my office by phone at (614) 466-9737, by e-mail at SD07@senate.state.oh.us or by writing State Senator Shannon Jones, Ohio Statehouse, 1 Capitol Square, Columbus, OH 43215. I look forward to hearing from you.