Candidates vying to be Ohio’s next governor have found an issue they can agree on.
Incumbent Democrat Ted Strickland and his Republican challenger John Kasich have both declared their opposition to a ballot measure planned by the Humane Society of the United States and other animal advocacy groups for the November election.
The candidates spoke last week to about 400 farmers, legislators, and guests at the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation Ag Day event in Columbus.
The Humane Society is backing a petition for a proposed amendment to the Ohio constitution that would establish certain rules for the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board.
The board was established by a constitutional amendment known as Issue 2 that voters overwhelmingly approved in November.
“If we want to eat, and if we want access to affordable and inexpensive food, it is important for the agricultural community within our state not to be hamstrung and to have their hands tied behind their back by those who do not fully appreciate the value of what happens on our farms,” Gov. Strickland told the gathering.
Kasich described the Humane Society’s campaigns in other states as “extremism” and said: “No outsiders ought to come in here and try to destroy our farms.”
Attorney General Richard Cordray has certified the summary language in an initiative petition the groups submitted and the Ohio Ballot Board has approved the petition for signature collection. Petitioners must now collect signatures from registered voters equal to at least 10 percent of the total vote cast in Ohio’s last gubernatorial race.
Hoping to utilize a large volunteer base, Ohioans for Humane Farms said it plans to collect more than 600,000 signatures to place the measure on the general election ballot.
Other organizations supporting the measure include: Ohio Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Ohio Sierra Club, United Farm Workers, Consumer Federation of America, Toledo Area Humane Society, Geauga Humane Society, and the Center for Food Safety.
Backers say the measure will require the livestock board to adopt minimum standards that will prevent cruel and inhumane treatment of farm animals.
The state chairmen of the two major political parties, however, have their doubts about the groups’ intentions.
“It’s pretty remarkable. We haven’t even had a chance to write the rules and somebody else is going to tell us what the rules should be,” Chris Redfern, chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party, said in a radio interview with the Farm Bureau.
Ohio Republican Party Chairman Kevin DeWine said the measure shows the “political angle of the Humane Society.”
Called common sense
“It is cruel and inhumane to confine animals in cages so small they can’t turn around and extend their limbs,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States. “Ohio citizens can help prevent farm animal cruelty by volunteering to gather signatures to put this common sense initiative on the ballot.”
Ohio Farm Bureau vice president Jack Fisher said the care board “…is the best way to resolve animal care issues, and the board should be given the chance to prove itself.”
Dr. Leah Dorman, a former assistant state veterinarian with the Ohio Department of Agriculture and now director of food programs for Ohio Farm Bureau's Center for Food and Animal Issues board, will be the featured speaker at an Agriculture Community Breakfast March 26 at St. John’s Lutheran Church, 122 W. Ottawa Street, Oak Harbor.
She will discuss Issue 2 and the livestock care board.