Many members of the Ohio Freedom Alliance opposes issue 2 because it would create an unaccountable board that will set all livestock standards in the state of Ohio. The way this board is structured, regulations will inevitably be created that benefit a few powerful special interests and the consumer and small farmer will pay the cost. This constitutional amendment is not the proper use of the Ohio constitution. Instead we should concentrate on efforts that protect small farms as well as large agribusiness, and also empower consumers to make choices.
Questions About Issue 2
By Clint Zeigler
Director Ohio Freedom Alliance Mt. Giliead Chapter
Who should have the final say as to how livestock are raised and cared for in the state of Ohio? This November House Joint Resolution 2 will be on the ballot as Issue 2. This proposed resolution will create the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board, which will establish standards governing the care and well-being of livestock and poultry in Ohio. This board will have “exclusive authority” in establishing these standards, being “subject only to the General Assembly”.
This means that livestock farmers will no longer have the right to make their own judgments as to how they raise their own livestock unless it conforms to the standards the board deems acceptable. This thirteen member board will be made up of ten Governor appointed members, one member appointed by the President of the Senate, one appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the director of the state department that regulates agriculture who shall be the chairperson.
We are being told that this board will protect farms from animal rights groups, but what will protect the farmers from the total state control of their farm. After reading the proposed resolution, I have several questions I’d like to ask concerning Issue 2.
- Why has the Ohio Farmers Union decided to oppose issue 2 in their August meeting?
- Will I need a license or permit to own and raise livestock in this state?
- Will special training and classes be required to obtain right to raise livestock?
- Will someone come to my farm to ensure that I follow the guidelines set forth from this board, without search warrants or probable cause?
- Will I be a criminal, and subject to fines/prison if I disagree with the standards set by the board and fail to comply?
- Will these board members be paid? If so, who decides their salary?
- How will the actions of this board be funded? And by whom, tax payers or farmers?
- How will their decrees be enforced?
- How long will their term be? Indefinite or limited?
- Why is this board given “excusive authority to establish standards governing the care and well-being of livestock and poultry in this state” instead of the farmer?
- Why are the members of this board appointed (10 by Governor) and not voted into their position by the farmers themselves?
- What appeal process will be available for those who wish to challenge the standards set by this board? And will that require a fee also?
- Why is the only requirement for two of these board members is that they consume food?
- Why only three family farmers? Won’t they be out numbered by the other 10 non-farmers.
- What effect will this have on organic and all natural farms?
- Do farmers lack intelligence and need someone to regulate and instruct them how to farm? And why is fear being used to provoke the acceptance of this amendment?
- Will this board view livestock as the private property of the farmers and a Divine right to govern them as their own conscience directs? Or is their livestock the property of the state?
- Will this board establish rules regarding vaccines?
- Will I be required to keep updated farm records and submit them annually to this board?
- Will the Amish of Ohio be exempt of any rules that may be established if it would be found to contradict their religious beliefs?
- Why would we want to establish a government entity to “protect us (farmers) from special interest groups when the very way these groups achieve their goals is to lobby and control government entities?
- Doesn’t this proposed amendment contradict the original FFA Creed. paragraph three? Which states:
I believe in leadership from ourselves and respect from others. I believe in my own ability to work efficiently and think clearly, with such knowledge and skill as I can secure, and in the ability of organized farmers to serve our own and public interest in marketing the product of our toil. I believe we can safeguard those rights against practices and policies that are unfair.
- If I have sworn the oath of the Pledge Of Allegiance which professes “Liberty and Justice for all”, since this amendment takes the liberty to raise livestock from an individual farmer and gives it into the direct control of the state, would I be committing hypocrisy according to my spoken oath?
- Are horses included under the authority of this Board? If not, shouldn’t they be protected from animal rights groups too and be subject to the standards decreed by this board?
- Is the only way to protect livestock farms in Ohio from animal rights groups is to have them hand over their liberty and trust the state? Are their other options avalible?
Alternatives to the Ohio Farm Czar Board
By Joe Bozzi
Director Ohio Freedom Alliance
The continued merger of big agribusiness and government in Ohio that issue 2 would create is a big mistake. It will not benefit consumers, food safety, farmers, nor animals. While the intentions of this type of legislation are often good, the results are usually regretted later on. In the end, the winners will be a few large corporations and government bureaucrats; we the consumers and small farmers will pay the price. It is ironic that existing government meddling at the direction of big business has caused the destruction of the small farm and the rise of factory farming in the first place. In typical fashion, the government cannot offer any solutions other than more of the same. More meddling is not the solution and will just make our situation worse than it already is.
Instead, the Ohio Freedom Alliance is working on a set of alternative measures to address both the problem of animal abuse and to protect the rights of the farmer to farm as he or she sees fit. First of all, so that farmers do not feel threatened and vulnerable to losing their rights to irresponsible legislation and/or unaccountable farm czars, we need a freedom to farm act, essentially a farmers’ bill of rights. We hope to have more information about this piece of legislation in the near future. However, if you are also concerned about animal abuse like I am, we need to do something with respect to this, as well.
Recently a Columbus-based retailer was publicly criticized for its practice of using a large amount of wood products from unsustainable sources in their mail order catalogs. Faced with the thread of bad publicity and loss of business because consumers demand responsible practices, the retailer worked with the Forest Stewardship Council to improve their practices and they now I have noticed their catalogs carry the FSC seal of approval. It is interesting to note that the FSC was created because governments failed to take action. This failure is to all our benefit however, by developing a set of voluntary, non-governmental standards, the standards are more likely to be responsive to consumer and producer demands, rather than big business profit taking and government beuarocrat power grabs.
There are actually many examples of private organizations developing industry standards, like Underwriters Laboratories (UL). This private regulatory model works well because these standard-bearers are not granted a monopoly, and if the standards are not good, they face the threat of competition. I think this model should be applied to farming in Ohio too. A non-profit organization could work with industry to develop a set of standards. Food retailers would desire to sell certified responsible products and would probably proudly display the seal of approval, because, now more than ever, consumers are interested in quality food from responsible sources. Farmers’ rights would also be protected because they are not forced into any system; however, they face the threat of lost business if they don’t respond to the desires of consumers. Issue 2 forces farmers and consumers into a lose-lose situation. There are other options that should be considered that will protect freedom, competition, and the small farmer too.
A Letter to the Editor
VOTE NO ON ISSUE 2
by Andy Myers
On the November 3rd ballot, Ohio voters will be asked to approve a constitutional amendment that will put an appointed board of agribusiness leaders and government officials in charge of deciding how farm animals should be treated.
Factory Farmers are promoting this constitutional amendment as a way to protect them from criticism by the Humane Society and PETA and other people who may question their treatment of animals.
But organizations that represent small farmers who treat their animals humanely do not think this is the way to protect animals or consumers. These groups like the Farmers’ Union, Innovative Farmers of Ohio, Slow Food of Northern Ohio fear that such a bureaucratic measure will make it more difficult for the small farmer to comply with new regulations.
Do not be fooled by the misleading language of this proposal. It protects large, industrial farms that confine hundreds and even thousands of animals for rapid growth using antibiotics, hormones, and unnatural habitats. For more information go to www.ohioact.org and Vote NO on Issue 2.
If you are looking for a speaker who can argue against issue 2, the follow people have agreed to speak.
- Tim Wightman, President of Farm to Consumer Foundation (farmtoconsumer.org)
- Clint Zeigler, Director of Ohio Freedom Alliance, Mt Gilead Chapter (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Contact Joe Bozzi (email@example.com) if interested or for questions.