Governor Ted Strickland has appointed 10 persons to the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board – a panel created by the passage last year of an amendment to the state constitution.
The governor’s appointments include: Tony Forshey, a veterinarian with the Ohio Department of Agriculture; Leon Weaver, owner/operator of Bridgewater Dairy; Jeff Wuebker, a farm owner and president of the Ohio Soybean Association; Bobby Moser, dean of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at the Ohio State University; Jeffrey LeJeune, associate professor of Food and Animal Health Science at the agricultural research and development center at the Ohio State University; Harold Dates, president of the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Cincinnati; Jerry Lahmers, a veterinarian and family farm owner; Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks; Robert Cole, a former official with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Stacey Atherton, co-owner of a farm and member of Ohio Dairy Producers and Ohio Farm Bureau.
Robert Boggs, director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture, is to be chairman of the board.
The speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives and president of the Ohio Senate will also each appoint someone to the 13-member board.
The board is charged with establishing standards of animal care for the department of agriculture, subject to the authority of the state legislature.
Board members are to consider factors such as best agricultural management practices, bio-security, animal morbidity and mortality data, food safety, and the protection of local, affordable food supplies for consumers.
While the governor was considering his appointments, a coalition of animal rights groups was pressing on with a campaign to gather 600,000 signatures for a ballot issue that would set additional regulations for the board.
Ohioans for Humane Farms held rallies last month in Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Toledo to kick off their campaign.
Organizers said the measure, if passed, would improve conditions for veal calves, breeding pigs, egg-laying hens that are confined in restrictive cages and crates. It would allow the board six years to implement new standards.
Prior to the passage last November of Issue 2, which established the livestock care standards board, the Humane Society of the United States had been holding discussions with representatives of Ohio agri-business. But those talks fell through and when the Ohio Farm Bureau and other agriculture organizations convinced lawmakers to place the issue on the ballot, the Humane Society called it a “handout to big agri-business interests” in the state.
Supporters of Issue 2 called it a flexible mechanism to address animal care issues.