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13 September 2009 - Ohio, Vote for State Issue 2

It is called ‘State Issue 2' and Ohio voters will find it on the ballot when they go to the polls November 3rd. Before I explain ‘State Issue 2', let me share some background. You may recall several months ago, on Samuelson Sez, I wrote about the Humane Society of the United States, with victories on livestock production in Florida, Arizona and California, selecting Ohio as its next target. We in agriculture know the goal of the Humane Society of the United States is far more than humane treatment of livestock, it is ultimately to eliminate livestock production in the United States.

When livestock producers in Ohio learned of the plans of the Humane Society they didn't sit down and say there is nothing we can do. They got on their feet and went to work, because they were basically told that if Ohio producers didn't agree with the rules proposed by the Humane Society of the United States, then HSUS would go to the polls a year from November and mount a massive campaign to convince the voters that livestock and poultry were being mistreated on Ohio farms.

So, farm and livestock organizations made a pre-emptive strike; they are going to the ballot box this November. In unusually quick action, the Ohio legislature placed State Issue 2 on the ballot. If voters approve, the legislation will establish the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board. The governor and legislature would appoint members, including family farmers, veterinarians, a food-safety expert, a representative of a local humane society, members of statewide farm organizations, the Dean of an Ohio agriculture college and two consumers. The state Agriculture Director would lead the panel.

Alan Johnson, in a recent story in the Columbus Dispatch, provided good coverage of the battle that is underway and there, indeed, are opponents...one of them saying "This is really about agribusiness interests working with the legislature to block regulations requiring more-humane treatment of animals - allowing a chicken to spread its wings in a cage, for example, or a dairy cow to lie down in the barn".
That language alone shows to me a lack of knowledge of how farmers treat animals, but it also shows the direction that HSUS will take in the campaign. They will take the emotional road and ignore science.

It will be an expensive battle. According to Johnson's story, farm groups could spend up to seven-million dollars to urge voter approval of State Issue 2. Who knows how much of the $200-million in the HSUS treasury will be spent trying to defeat it? I commend the Ohio farm groups and state legislature for their quick action, and I urge Ohio voters to vote YES on State Issue 2. The nation's livestock producers will be watching in November.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.