July 2, 2010
On Wednesday, June 30, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, the Ohio Farm Bureau, Ohioans for Humane Farms, The Humane Society of the United States, and other parties announced a landmark farm animal welfare agreement. This announcement came on the day that animal welfare activists were poised to submit 500,000 signatures to the Ohio Secretary of State in order to place farm animal welfare issues on the November ballot.
Under the agreement, Governor Strickland, the Ohio Legislature, and the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board are asked to work together to:
· Ban new gestation crates for breeding sows beginning January 1, 2011
· Phase out the use of existing gestation crates within 15 years
· Place a moratorium on new battery cage confinement operations for egg-laying hens
· Phase out the use of veal crates by 2017
· Prohibit strangulation of farm animals and require humane euthanasia methods for sick or injured animals
· End the transport of downer cattle to slaughter
Strickland said that the agreement appropriately balances animal welfare and economic concerns, noting that it has the support of Ohioans for Livestock Care Steering Committee, which is made up of poultry, pork, dairy, beef, corn and soybean associations. “This agreement represents a joint effort to find common ground. As a result, Ohio agriculture will remain strong and animals will be treated better,” he stated. “Instead of expending tens of millions of dollars and unproductive energy fighting an acrimonious campaign through the fall, both sides will be able to continue investing in our agricultural base and taking care of animals.”
Under Ohio law, the gathered citizen signatures remain valid after the November election, so farm animal welfare proponents retain the ability to place the matter on a future ballot if the agreement is not fulfilled.
Animal welfare organizations oppose the use of intensive confinement systems in animal agriculture, including gestation crates, battery cages, and veal crates, arguing that confining animals for most of their lives to small crates or cages causes physical and psychological harm.