COLUMBUS -- Themes of ensuring animal well-being and addressing the increasing role of animal rights activists groups were prevalent at the 2010 Ohio Livestock Coalition (OLC) Annual Meeting and Industry Symposium, held today in Waldo, Ohio. The meeting provides farm organization leaders and farmers from across Ohio with perspectives from state and national farm leaders and establishes a venue to discuss current events facing agriculture and the farm community.

Two national speakers for the meeting suggested that animal care and activism are two areas that provide both challenges and opportunities for Ohio's livestock and poultry farmers.

American Humane Association chairman David Geis and Tim Amlaw, Vice President of the American Humane Certified farm animal program, shared with attendees the organization's commitment to helping Ohio's new Livestock Care Standards Board toward establishing science-based auditing, education and operations practices.

"American Humane is a 133-year-old national organization that is dedicated to protecting both animals and children," said Amlaw. "We want to be a resource to Ohio's new Livestock Care Board to create sustainable, positive change that is based on solid research, experience and collaboration with the agriculture community." Amlaw challenged attendees to think about how they are going to start providing the best level of care for their animals starting tomorrow, and how they are educating consumers of their own commitment to high standards.

David Martosko, director of research at the nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) and a native Ohioan, discussed the role of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the threat the organization poses to the agriculture community. HSUS currently is advocating for an extreme farm animal care measure in Ohio and attempting to secure a place for its proposal on the 2010 November ballot. CCF recently launched, a Web site created to monitor the activities of HSUS and offer a critique of the organization that has been missing from the national debate.

"You're at war with this so-called Humane Society, whether or not you want to be," Martosko told meeting attendees. "HSUS is basically PETA with a nicer wristwatch. It's ultimately not going to be enough to tell Ohioans the truth about who you are. Someone has to tell the public the truth about your enemies too. If HSUS's leaders were honest about their objectives, hardly any Americans would send them money."

Guests at the meeting also heard from Ohio Department of Agriculture Director Robert Boggs, who provided an update on the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board creation and recent appointments by Governor Ted Strickland. The Board was established after Ohio voters passed Issue 2 last November with 64 percent of the vote.

Scott Higgins, board president for OLC and president and CEO of the American Dairy Association Mideast, discussed how the farm community can maintain consumer confidence in animal agriculture. He reviewed OLC's recent advertising campaigns, created to continue dialogue with Ohio consumers about how Ohio's livestock farms are operated today and to underscore farmers' commitment to excellent care of animals, the environment and local communities.