CAFOs to Seize Ohio thru Issue 2

NO on Issue 2

NO on Issue 2

By Rady Ananda

A radical reach for power, Issue 2 grants a politically appointed Livestock Care Standards Board autonomous authority over the Ohio Dept of Agriculture, the Ohio EPA, other state agencies and the state legislature. Ohioans are now voting on the Issue through Nov. 3rd.

Spending millions of ad dollars on bolstering support for Issue 2, industry giants are confident they’ll win. The initiative thwarts a growing national movement to enforce more humane, and fewer, CAFOs – concentrated animal feeding operations.

Several documentaries, including this year’s FOOD, Inc. and Fresh, have caught the national imagination, boosting public demand for cleaner, saner, and safer food. What this means depends on who you are in the food web. Producers, consumers, product, and environment each have competing value. Who prioritizes those values is what Issue 2 is all about.

The Board of 13 will trump Ohio Revised Code and Ohio Administrative Code (OAC). They will have complete power (“exclusive authority”) to write the rules for Ohio’s livestock practices.

Rule-writing is one significant tool corporations use to circumvent law. Best management practices are defined according to those who dominate such a board. Rob Swindell explains:

“There would be no election of members, like, for example, those that are elected to serve on the Ohio School Board. Three seats on the board are reserved for family farmers and one is reserved for a county humane officer, but there is nowhere near the representation that would be required to influence the standards or represent the public.”

From an April 2009 Ohio EPA report, “Of the 257,000 animal feeding operations in the United States today, about 15,500 are CAFOs. There are about 150 Large CAFOs in Ohio.” The number of all factory farms was not provided, but in 2002, Ohio had 556 CAFOs, according to 2002 USDA data collected by Food and Water Watch.

Under 2002 CAFO regulations, Ohio was the 7th most pollutive state in the nation. [Maps here.] The Ohio EPA explains:

“These operations generate manure, litter and process wastewater, which can contain pollutants like nitrogen, phosphorus, metals and bacteria. If CAFO operators do not manage these materials properly, they could release pollutants into the environment through spills, overflows or runoff. These releases, in turn, might pollute surface waters and threaten the health of people and animals.”

Indeed, the science is so vast, specialized agencies address Ag operations:

  • Ohio Environmental Protection Agency issues pollution permits to farms;
  • Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife investigates all fish kills and impacts to other wildlife;
  • ODNR Division of Soil and Water Conservation enforces Ohio’s agriculture pollution abatement laws for small and medium livestock facilities;
  • Ohio Dept. of Health, Environmental Health Division responds to and investigates fly nuisances caused by factory farms; and
  • OAC Division of Surface Water’s CAFO Permitting Program, among others.

Issue 2 will allow the Livestock Board to bypass the scientific and regulatory framework already built through years of research and democratic debate.

One Amish farmer wrote me, “There isn’t a problem with ‘SAFE LOCAL’ food. The problem is with the large factory farms. The large factory farm people are pushing Issue 2. That concerns me greatly.”

Opponents also believe Issue 2 is Big Meat’s maneuver to prevent a victorious repeat of Proposition 2 in California. “While masquerading as an attempt to improve food safety and animal welfare,” notes Swindell, “Issue 2 in reality is an attempt by big industry to preempt statewide initiatives, which phased out problematic animal production practices like battery cages for chickens.”

And their beaks are lopped off.

And their beaks are lopped off.

Four of Ohio’s largest newspapers condemn Issue 2. Cleveland’s newspaper, The Plain Dealer, wrote, “But at its most damaging, the proposed Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board would pre-empt real Statehouse debate on farm animal standards.”

The Columbus Dispatch wrote, “Don’t use the state constitution to set livestock-care rules or other detailed policies.” Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner’s office agrees in its Argument Against Issue 2:

“Ohio’s constitutional offices include the governor, the secretary of state, the attorney general, the auditor and the treasurer. Making the proposed livestock board a constitutional board would be an inappropriate use of the Ohio Constitution. Amending the Ohio Constitution should be reserved for significant issues that affect the rights of all Ohioans.”

Judith McGeary is an attorney, a farmer, and the Executive Director of the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance. She also opposes using the Ohio Constitution for rule making:

“Creating an unelected industry board that can override the legislature is not consistent with the concept of separation of powers and checks and balances.”

For over 30 years, the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association speaks for sustainable agriculture and local, organic foods. Executive director Carol Goland points voters to their OEFFA Action Page, which explains why they should oppose the measure:

“Issue 2 will create a Livestock Care Standards Board with no accountability to voters. Their decisions will be final. There is no further review or evaluation of the standard, no established forum for public comment, and no ability to appeal their decisions.

“Issue 2 serves the economic interests of factory farms, opening the door for the proliferation of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) in Ohio.”

Darol Dickinson, a Texas longhorn rancher in Eastern Ohio, condemns Issue 2 on the grounds that “inspections by a committee with a majority of city people who do not understand efficient animal production on a 5000-acre ranch should not make our financial decisions.”  

Issue 2 will quash robust debate by those who write the rules now, and who are accountable to the public.

Another fear among independent farmers is that the board will require animal identification and tracking, which is nationally opposed by all but CAFOs. (Read more about the proposed National Animal Identification System here.)

The environmental catastrophes caused by Buckeye Egg Farms (bought by Ohio Fresh Eggs after Ohio revoked its operating licenses in 2003) only hint at what is to come if Ohio’s democratic process is thwarted by the emergence of an unaccountable rule making board.

Voters should reject any scheme to control our food supply that takes the public, farmers and lawmakers out of the discussion.

ChickensInBatteryCageslg (500 x 387)

[But good luck on those undetectably hackable voting machines!]

3 responses to “CAFOs to Seize Ohio thru Issue 2

  1. WhAAAAAAAAAAt????????????
    this is nuts.
    a public representation of 3!
    on a board of 13?
    the industry would never be voting WITH small or private Industry members you just know that!
    when did this dirty gem get started?
    after Visack or Taylors appointments?
    150 CAFO’s in Ohio?
    bloody hell, did all the people just move out ? not much room left for people?
    Minimal employment, maximum output, and Massive Eco damage.
    what else is in the water Ohioans drink , i wonder?

    • Actually, there are over 500 CAFOs in Ohio. The “150” refers only to LARGE CAFOs, which has some huge number like 10,000 or more animals. (I don’t know the exact definition.)

      Suzana Megles first brought this issue to the attention of Food Freedom, with her June post, Big Ag to police its animal treatment in Ohio.

      And YES, it is OUTRAGEOUS.

      Speaking of water quality in Ohio, I have water quality maps from when I was at Ohio State Univ. Every single stream in the state of Ohio is polluted. There are no potable sources of water. All natural water has to be decontaminated before it is safe for humans to drink.

      How’s that for industry destroying the environment in the name of profit?

  2. We agree with and support the premise of issue 2 but not as a constitutional amendment.
    The same objective to thwart PETA and HSUS could have been accomplished by including the key words “agricultural best management practices for such care and well-being” in section 900 of the Ohio Revised Code. This we do support.

    Our problem with this constitutional amendment is the excessive power it places in the hands of a 13-member group of non-elected bureaucrats. This constitutional amendment places in the Board’s hands the power to mandate whatever they choose, and it is the Department of Ag that will implement and enforce those decisions of the Board. (see the text of proposed amendment at The text of the amendment includes “consider factors that include, but are not limited to,” which gives the Board authority far beyond the scope of its stated purpose. In the text “agricultural best management practices for such care and well-being” is the part that will thwart HSUS and their cronies. “Biosecurity,” “disease prevention,” “animal morbidity and mortality data,” “food safety practices,” and “the protection of local, affordable food supplies” are already covered in Ohio Revised Code.

    Issue 2 is an expansion of State Government that creates unchecked power and new layers of unaccountable bureaucracy over our livestock farmers.

    What did it take to twist the arms of all the members of both the House and Senate to make them take such a draconian measure? If we change the Constitution every time the wind blows from the wrong direction, what value remains in it? What next? Change the US Constitution to remove free speech and religious freedom?

    The text of issue 2 shows just how rushed the process was and how little thought went into doing the job right. The Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board is not even an imperfect solution. It is not a solution at all. The correct solution is to add the proper language into Ohio Revised Code, a process that would require both the House and Senate to debate and agree on language and the Governor to sign the bill into law.

    We are being told that this Board will protect farms from animal rights groups, but what will protect the farmers from the Board, a panel of bureaucrats without accountability?

    After reading the proposed resolution, we have several questions regarding Issue 2.

    Why did the Ohio Farmers Union decide to oppose issue 2 in their August meeting?

    Will we need a license or permit to own and raise livestock in this state?

    Will special training and classes be required to obtain the right to raise livestock?

    Will someone come to our farm to ensure that we follow the guidelines set forth by this Board, without search warrants or probable cause?

    Will we be criminals, and subject to fines/prison if we 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: by taxpayers or farmers?

    How will Board decrees be enforced?

    How long will the terms of appointees 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? Will that appeal require a fee also?

    Why only three “family farmers”? Won’t they be outnumbered by the other 10 non-farmers?

    What effect will the approval of the Board have on organic and all natural farms?

    Why is Farm Bureau using fear to provoke the acceptance of this amendment?

    Will this Board view livestock as the private property of the farmers with Divine right to govern them as their own conscience directs? Or is livestock the property of the State?

    Will this Board establish rules regarding vaccines?

    Will we be required to keep updated farm records and submit them annually to this board?

    Will the Amish of Ohio be exempt from any rules that 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 we 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 to the direct control of the State, would we be committing hypocrisy according to our 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 forfeiture of liberty the only way to protect livestock farms in Ohio from animal rights groups? Are there other options available?

    In conclusion, we support the opposition to Issue 2 as expressed by the Ohio Farmers Union, The League of Women Voters, Ohio Food and Water Watch, The Ohio Environmental Stewardship Alliance, and all the major newspapers in Ohio.

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