OHIO LIVESTOCK COALITION SUPPORTS PROPOSAL TO CREATE LIVESTOCK CARE BOARD

COLUMBUS -- The Ohio Livestock Coalition today released the following statement regarding the announcement of the Ohio House and Senate Joint Resolutions to create the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board (the Board). The statement can be attributed to Sandy Kuhn, executive director, Ohio Livestock Coalition.

"Ohio's livestock farmers have a long history of excellent animal care and of producing safe, wholesome, high-protein foods for Ohioans. That's why a measure to put in place a Board that affirms that history is supported by the tens of thousands of livestock farmers across Ohio.

"We commend Governor Ted Strickland, Senate President Bill Harris and House Speaker Armond Budish, along with members of the Ohio General Assembly, for coming together in support of this important proposal. A Board of experts in farming, animal care, food safety and animal science is the right body to make Ohio-based decisions that affect our farms and our ability to continue producing safe, local food for Ohioans."

"If passed, this resolution will allow the people of Ohio to cast their vote in support of Ohio's livestock community, by passing a ballot measure that protects our family farms and continues the excellent care of the animals we raise."

"Our organization and the farmers we represent urge the Ohio General Assembly to act swiftly on this proposal so that Ohio can continue to be a national leader in animal agriculture and in food production."

The below release was issued jointly by the Ohio House and Senate.

The Ohio Senate
Senator Bob Gibbs
22nd Senate District

The Ohio House
of Representatives
Representative Allan Sayre
96th House District

Livestock Care Amendment INTRODUCED IN GENERAL ASSEMBLY WITH BROAD BIPARTISAN SUPPORT
Issue Planned for November Ballot Creates Care Standards Board to Maintain Food Safety, Protect Locally Raised Food Supply

COLUMBUS -- In a show of bipartisan support, legislators from both parties and representatives of the state's agriculture organizations today announced a cooperative effort to place a comprehensive animal care amendment on the November 2009 ballot. House Joint Resolution 2, sponsored by Representative Allan Sayre (D-Dover), and Senate Joint Resolution 6, sponsored by Senator Bob Gibbs (R-Lakeville), were introduced on June 18 in both chambers. HJR 2 is co-sponsored by Representative Margaret Ruhl (R-Mt. Vernon), and SJR 6 is co-sponsored by Senator Jason Wilson (D-Columbiana).

The joint resolutions propose a measure that would create the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board (the Board), a 13-member state board that would determine and enforce guidelines for the care and well-being of livestock and poultry in Ohio in order to protect food safety and locally produced food for Ohioans.

Governor Ted Strickland has given his support to the proposed amendment, which also has the support of Speaker Armond Budish, Senate President Bill Harris, House Minority Leader Bill Batchelder and Senate Minority Leader Capri Cafaro.

"Clearly, the public wants reassurance that the food they consume is produced here in Ohio, and that it is safe to eat and responsibly farmed," said Rep. Sayre. "By creating an expert body that can evaluate and implement standards for livestock and poultry care, Ohio responds to this need with a forthright, effective approach that leverages the best expertise available in our state."

"This proposal is an essential step in sustaining the state's livestock and poultry industries for generations to come," said Sen. Gibbs. "Agriculture is the top contributor to Ohio's economy, and this is an opportune time for Ohio to lead the way in regulating safe food production that respects animals, consumers and our farmers."

The state's elected officials were joined in their support by leaders of Ohio's agriculture community, including representatives of the state's commodity organizations, individual farmers and other stakeholder groups, which have expressed their collective support for the Board's creation.

"How food is produced in Ohio is a legitimate area of public interest, and we are committed to doing even more than what is expected of us," said Jack Fisher, executive vice president of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation. "It's time for Ohio to take control of the animal care issue by supporting proactive steps to protect both our food supply and our flocks and herds, while also ensuring we can produce the amount of food necessary to feed Ohio and the world."

He said Ohio farmers have been concerned about out-of-state efforts to ban modern food production and housing methods - efforts that could reduce the availability of food produced in Ohio, increase the risk of animal disease and jeopardize food safety measures - and that a positive common-sense, Ohio-based solution is the right response.

"Ohio hog farmers recognize that they have both a moral and ethical obligation to provide for the humane treatment of their animals," said Dick Isler, executive vice president of the Ohio Pork Producers Council. "That's why we fully support the creation of the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board because it ensures that animal well-being is top-of-mind in all livestock production practices."

"Ohio's egg farmers are firmly committed to responsible animal care -- it's the right thing to do and it makes sense for our flocks," said Jim Chakeres, executive vice president of the Ohio Poultry Association. "We look forward to working with the new board of experts to advance our common goal of caring for our hens -- to ensure that they are healthy, that our food supply is safe, and that nutritious, affordable eggs are available for Ohio consumers."

The legislation would give the Board authority to promulgate animal care rules. "This ensures that Ohio decisions affecting livestock and poultry care will be the product of the best thinking of Ohio experts, including farmers, veterinarians and the Department of Agriculture," said Fisher.

Regulations promulgated by the Board for the livestock and poultry industries will give weight to food safety, local availability and affordability and to best farm management practices for animal well-being. Among its responsibilities are the consideration of biosecurity on livestock farms, animal disease prevention, food safety and food production volume and price.

Thirteen members will be appointed to the Board, including 10 by the Governor and one each by the House and Senate. The Ohio Director of Agriculture will serve ex officio as the 13th member and as chair of the Board.

The Board will comprise a broad base of experts in livestock and poultry care, including three family farmers, two veterinarians (one of whom is the state veterinarian), a food safety expert, a representative of a local humane society, two members from statewide farm organizations, the dean of an Ohio agriculture college and two members representing Ohio consumers.

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For more information, contact: Keary McCarthy, Ohio House of Representatives at (614) 466-9036 or Maggie Ostrowski, Ohio Senate at (614) 995-1280.