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March 25, 2010

Seeking Common Sense Farm Measures in Ohio

Signature gathering campaign revs up

The Humane Society of the United States

 



Hundreds of Ohioans gathered at rallies around the state earlier this month to kick off a campaign to prevent some of the cruelest mistreatment of animals on Ohio's factory farms.

Their mission: To collect the more than 600,000 signatures needed by July to place an anti-cruelty ballot measure before Ohio voters on Election Day this November. The measure would provide guidance to the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board to adopt certain minimum standards—ending confinement of animals in cages so small they can't turn around or extend their limbs and cruel methods of killing sick or injured animals—to prevent the inhumane treatment of farm animals, enhance food safety, protect the environment, and strengthen Ohio family farms.

As part of the Ohioans for Humane Farms coalition working to collect signatures and pass the ballot measure, The HSUS is a lead supporter of the effort. Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS, recently traveled to a series of kickoff rallies in Columbus, Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Toledo to underscore its importance.

"Every day, millions of animals suffer in factory farms across Ohio," Pacelle told the crowds. "Our message is common sense: All animals, including those raised for food, deserve to be treated humanely. I'm confident we'll get this measure before Ohio voters and they will take a stand for decency and compassion."

The effort is attracting a growing list of endorsements from Ohio organizations, including the Ohio SPCA, Ohio Sierra Club, Geauga Humane Society, Humane Society of Greater Dayton, and Ohio League of Humane Voters, as well as national groups such as Farm Sanctuary, Center for Food Safety, United Farm Workers, Consumer Federation of America and Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Karen Minton, HSUS Ohio state director, is working with hundreds of Ohio volunteers on the ground.

"In Ohio, more than 27 million animals are confined in cages and crates so small they can barely move for months on end, and some have even been hung with chains execution-style. We can do better," she said. "As a native Ohioan, I'm looking forward to working with volunteers to get this important measure on November's ballot."

Seeds of change

The Ohio measure is similar to California's Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act, which passed in a 63.5 percent landslide on Election Day 2008. Similar animal welfare laws have been enacted in Michigan, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Maine, and Oregon.

In Ohio, the ballot measure would improve the lives of tens of thousands of veal calves, 170,000 breeding pigs, and approximately 27 million egg-laying hens. These animals are confined in cages and crates so restrictive they can barely move an inch for virtually their whole lives.

It would also take aim at the practices of allowing sick or injured cows, or downer cows, to be transported for the purpose of entering the human food chain and the strangulation and use of other inhumane methods to euthanize sick farm animals.

Science shows that caging animals in high densities—as is the practice on factory farms—leads to higher concentrations of animal waste and air and water pollution, as well as a greater risk of the transmission of diseases like Salmonella.

In March 2009, the HBO documentary Death on a Factory Farm revealed horrific mistreatment of pigs on an Ohio factory farm, including immobilization inside tiny crates and the killing of pigs by hanging them execution-style from a tractor, leaving them to writhe in the air for minutes on end.

The farmer was acquitted of cruelty for the hangings, a verdict Ohio's agribusiness community hailed as a "huge victory," because Ohio has no law specifically requiring humane farm animal euthanasia methods.

If passed, the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board will have six years to implement the new minimum standards, allowing producers sufficient time to transition to more humane systems.

Whether you live in Ohio or not, visit www.ohiohumane.com for details on how you can help support this landmark effort to improve the lives of more than 27 million animals on Ohio's factory farms.

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