Hundreds of Ohio farmers, livestock producers, politicians and consumers gathered at the state’s 4-H Center Wednesday to rally in support of Issue 2, which offers the promise of safe, locally grown food to consumers and continued viability for agriculture in the Buckeye state.

This November, Ohio voters will deal with a constitutional amendment with profound implications for the state’s livestock and crop farmers and their compatriots nationwide. Voters will decide if the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board should be established. The board, made up of Ohio livestock producers, scientists, academics, local animal welfare representative and consumers alike, will determine how animals will be raised within the state’s borders, rather than outside interests with a political agenda.

“Ohio Corn Growers have been heavily involved in the Ohio Livestock Care Standards board because 30 percent of our corn crop stays in state to feed livestock,” said Dwayne Siekman, executive director of the Ohio Corn Growers Association. “We need to be involved to insure production practices are based on sound science and the ability to utilize technology for farmers today and in the future.”

While a number of states – most recently, California – have established inflexible and impractical rules for how livestock are housed, Ohio has chosen not to negotiate and take the issue to the public who will feel the pain if the state’s number one industry is hampered to operate their businesses in a way that is both productive and practical.

“We should be extremely proud of the fact that ag groups like the corn growers have taken the fight to these outside groups rather than being complacent,” said Mark Thomas, OCGA board member. “We are not sitting back and allowing our destiny to be dictated. Win or lose we are engaged. As a dairy farmer nobody knows how to raise my dairy cows better than me. Consumers who want safe, nutritious affordable and locally grown food have a huge stake in this issue.”

Livestock eat more than 100 million bushels of corn in Ohio, a reflection of the scope of the industry which produced 7.1 billion eggs, 294 million pounds of chicken, 966 million pounds of pork and 500 million pounds of beef.

“This rally today demonstrates the coming together of farmers, politicians, labor and business in a meaningful way is possible,” Siekman said. “This is a great example of grassroots outreach.”