Update Nov. 4, 2009:Â The unofficial results showÂ 63.65% of Ohio voters (1,958,646 people) voted yesÂ for Issue 2, while 36.35% or 1,118,484 voters, voted no.
It’s probably no surprise this power grab by large agri-business succeeded. Ohio Against Constitutional Takeover (Ohio ACT) reports that 2/3 of the more than $4 million raised by Issue 2 proponents came from large agribusiness donors. 94% of the funding came from agribusiness trade organizations, factory farms and business and organizations that profit from factory farming. : United Egg Producers in Georgia, National Pork Producers Council and Pioneer Hi-Breed, both Iowa organizations, account for 10% of the total funding. Â Â
For more on what Issue 2 will mean for Ohioans and the farm animals in that state, read Animal Law Coalition’s report below.
Update Sept. 1: The Ohio Ballot Board has approved placement of Issue 2 on the ballot this November.
Issue 2 is basically the resolution passed this year by the Ohio legislatureÂ that calls on voters to amend Article XIV of the Ohio Constitution.Â
The resolution now called Issue 2, requires the creation of a "Livestock Care Standards Board" that will alone have the authority toÂ decide standards for care andÂ treatment of livestock and "poultry" in Ohio. The Board would have sole authority in Ohio to "prescribe standards for animal care and well-being that endeavor to maintain food safety, encourage locally grown and raised food, and protect Ohio farms and families."
The 13 member Board, not voters or citizens or even their elected legislators, would determine issues including "agricultural best management practices for …care and well-being [of animals], biosecurity, disease prevention, animal morbidity and mortality data, food safety practices, and the protection of local, affordable food supplies for consumers…"
The Board would be weighted with industry representatives. It would be made up onÂ representatives of 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. "[F]amily farms" is undefined.
It would mean agri-business would not be held accountable in Ohio for cruel treatment of farm animals. If the resolution is approved this November 3, 2009 by voters, it willÂ be impossible to use ballot initiatives to pass anti-cruelty measures in Ohio for farm animals.Â Factory farm cruelty is likely to continue unabated in Ohio.Â It would mean loss of choice and freedom for Ohioans in the future on a range of issues.Â
Also, there is no reason to think Issue 2 won’t be said to apply to dogs and prevent regulation of commerical dog breeders or puppy mills. The words "livestock" and "animal" are leftÂ undefined in Issue 2. In Ohio dogs are Â "subject to like restraints as other livestock." ORC Ann. 955.03Â Â
The sense of Issue 2 is food-related, but there is a big catchall that states this BoardÂ Â shall "prescribe standards for animal care and well-being that endeavor toÂ …. protect Ohio farms and families." Really broad, undefined authority that could be easily construed to include dogs and thus prevent regulation of puppy mills.Â Â
Issue 2 will be on the ballot in November. Ohio voters will decide whether toÂ place all decisions regarding the care and treatment of farm animals and dog in the hands of an agriculture industry board. A no vote means disapproval of this proposed amendment. Â Â Â
Other states moving to stopÂ cruel factory farm practices
MaineÂ joinedÂ ColoradoÂ andÂ ArizonaÂ in banning these cruel practices for pregnant sows and veal calves.Â CaliforniaÂ with its successful Prop 2 will ban cruel confinement for egg laying hens as well. Michigan just passed a bill like Prop 2.Â Oregon and Florida ban cruel confinement of pregnant sows.