In July 2009, the Ohio Senate and House of Representatives voted to place a constitutional amendment on the November 2009 ballot to create the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board (LCSB), to oversee animal agriculture in Ohio.
This 13 member board was to be granted authority under the constitution to regulate all horse, poultry, cattle, swine, alpaca, llama, sheep, and goat producers in the state—whether they raise a million hogs in confinement or three backyard chickens.
The idea for the board came about after the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) announced that it would work to restrict some of the most extreme livestock confinement practices, such as battery cages and veal tethering, on the ballot in 2010.
In 2009, voters approved the constitutional amendment. The implementing legislation for the LCSB, HB 414, was passed by the full House on March 10, 2010 with a vote of 98 to 0.
OEFFA’s Executive Director, Carol Goland, provided testimony at the hearings focused on concerns that any rules passed by the board might conflict with the national organic standards and the absence of any representation for organic producers on the board. Thanks to this testimony, the House voted to approve an amendment specifying that any rules adopted by the board that would conflict with the National Organic Program (NOP) standards could not apply to certified organic livestock producers.
After legislators balked at the idea of a fifteen cent per ton tax on animal feed to fund the board’s operating costs, the Senate’s version of the bill, SB 233, was amended to allow the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) to fund the board using private donations, grants, and civil penalties. After OEFFA raised objections about the potential conflict of interest that could result from agricultural interests funding their own oversight, former ODA Director Boggs committed to seeking legislative changes which would prohibit the board from accepting donations from the regulated entities. To date, those legislative changes have not been made and Governor Kasich's ODA Director, David Daniels, has yet to make a similar commitment.
Additionally, as a result of concerns raised by OEFFA, language in the legislation explicitly states, “The Ohio livestock care standards board shall not create a statewide animal identification system.”
The board held its first meeting in Reynoldsburg on April 27, 2010 and a series of six regional “listening sessions” throughout May to solicit public comment.
Soon after, then Governor Strickland brokered an agreement between HSUS and Ohio’s agricultural commodity groups, including the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, in which the industry agreed to a number of concessions, including urging the LCSB to adopt regulations phasing out the use of gestation crates and battery cages, in exchange for HSUS dropping their ballot measure.
The board, the Technical Research Advisory Committee (TRAC), and species subcommittees met regularly for the next year developing animal care standards. Here's an update on where things now stand:
- Euthanasia Standards and Civil Penalties: Rules for euthanizing and slaughtering livestock and civil penalties for violators of the LCSB's animal care standards went into effect on January 20, 2011. The euthanasia standards regulate all on-farm and in-transport euthanasia and slaughter of livestock in the state, outside of inspected slaughter facilities. The civil penalties apply to all standards developed by the board, and range from $500 for minor offenses to $10,000 for repeated offenses.
- General Considerations Standards and Standards for Disabled and Distressed Livestock: The LCSB finalized standards for the treatment of injured or lame animals, along with general cross-cutting standards and definitions which apply to all standards, all of which went into effect on April 28, 2011. OEFFA raised concerns about language which would have required all livestock owners, including small-scale and backyard producers, to prepare Standard Operating Procedures, emergency action plans, attend trainings, and offer training programs to employees on a variety of topics. As a result of these objections, this language was removed.
- Species Standards: The board gave final approval to standards for veal calves, poultry, swine, beef, dairy, goat, sheep, equine, alpaca and llama, which became effective on September 29, 2011. Whether to restrict or phase out controversial confinment practices, including gestation crates, battery cages, veal tethering, and individual veal stalls, involved extensive consideration and debate. No issue was more contentious than veal housing. For example, after the LCSB received 4,700 public comments, most in favor of allowing veal calves to turn around, the LCSB reversed a previous decision and voted to reinsert language in the standards which requires veal housing to enable veal calves to turn around in their stalls. OEFFA submitted lengthy public comments regarding the species standards throughout the process, particularly with regards to the layer standards and the issues of housing and space requirements. OEFFA and our farm members worked successfully to remove language from the standards which would have required fencing and overhead protection for all free-range and pastured poultry.
The ODA has developed printable guidebooks and quick reference factsheets designed to help producers understand the new standards.
Now that the board has completed its intial rule-making process, it is required to meet and review the standards several times each year.
Donate — OEFFA is working to make sure that livestock care standards protect diversified livestock producers and backyard farmers and that farmers know how these standards will impact them. OEFFA is also working to make sure consumers understand what the new standards mean for them (read OEFFA's September 2011 Columbus Dispatch Letter to the Editor). Make a donation now to help OEFFA continue to be an effective voice for Ohio’s organic and sustainable livestock producers, and consumers wanting safe, humanely-raised egg, meat, and dairy products.
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