This upcoming election you will see ballot Issue 2 that if passed will establish a livestock care standards board to determine standards for livestock care, with the Ohio Department of Agriculture to be the enforcer of such standards.

In Issue 2 a constitutional amendment is proposed to create a board to establish standards of care and well-being for livestock and poultry. On the ballot it states that the standards should endeavor to favor food safety, locally grown and raised food and Ohio farms and families. In establishing standards the board shall consider the following but not just the following: best management for animal care and well-being, disease prevention, animal sickness and death, food safety and the protection of local, affordable food supplies for consumers.

The Livestock Care Standards Board will contain thirteen Ohio residents. The Board will contain representatives from Ohio family farms, farming organizations, food safety experts, veterinarians, consumers, the Dean of the agriculture department at an Ohio college or university and a county humane society representative.

Despite the fact that no farmer wants additional government oversight, the agricultural community and organizations are uncharacteristically united in this effort. In fact, the following Ohio farm organizations all support a "yes" vote on Issue 2: Farm Bureau Federation, Pork Producers Council, Poultry Association, Dairy Producers Association, Cattlemen's Association, Soybean Association and Corn Growers Association.

Issue 2 passage is also endorsed by Ohio non-farm organizations, such as Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks, Restaurant Association and Veterinary Medical Association. The agricultural community sees this effort at self regulation as a better alternative than the animal confinement legislation passed in California at the last election.

To better understand the issues to be addressed in Issue 2 the OSU Department of Animal Sciences and the College of Veterinary Medicine are holding an Animal Welfare Symposium, "Building Partnerships to Address Animal Agriculture," on Friday, October 16 at the university's Nationwide and Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center, 2201 Fred Taylor Drive, Columbus, Ohio 43210. Animal welfare experts and social scientists from around the world will discuss the scientific, ethical, legal and social contexts embedded in the animal welfare debate.

The event is designed for food animal producers, consumers, veterinarians, and anyone with an interest in food animal production and products or sustainable animal agriculture. The symposium is an opportunity for those interested to participate in a discussion, obtain better understanding and hear about the present scientific knowledge about animal welfare in differing housing systems.

More detail and registration information is available at http://vet.osu.edu/AnimalWelfareSymposium or for more information, contact Melissa Weber at weber.254@osu.edu or 614-292-3752.

Source: James Skeeles, Ohio State University Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources