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February 16, 2010

Ohio Ballot Board Approves Anti-Cruelty Measure for Signature Collection

On Tuesday, after a hearing on a proposed anti-cruelty measure intended for the November 2010 election, the Ohio Ballot Board approved the measure for circulation for signature collection by a unanimous vote.

Utilizing a large volunteer base, Ohioans for Humane Farms will collect more than 600,000 signatures to place the measure on the general election ballot. The measure would allow voters to provide guidance to the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board to adopt certain minimum standards that will prevent the cruel and inhumane treatment of farm animals, enhance food safety, protect the environment and strengthen Ohio family farms.

The ballot measure is supported by a growing list of organizations, including The Humane Society of the United States, Farm Sanctuary, Ohio SPCA, Ohio Sierra Club, Geauga Humane Society, Ohio League of Humane Voters, Center for Food Safety, United Farm Workers, Consumer Federation of America and Center for Science in the Public Interest.

This measure will prevent cruel factory farming practices in Ohio, including:


  • Extreme confinement in tiny cages for months on end: Tens of thousands of veal calves, 170,000 breeding pigs, and approximately 27 million egg-laying hens in Ohio are confined in cages and crates so restrictive the animals can barely move an inch for virtually their whole lives. Many don't even have enough room to stretch their limbs or turn around.
  • Allowing "downer cows" to enter the human food chain: Allowing sick and injured animals into the food supply threatens public health and food safety. Cows too sick or injured to stand or walk on their own to slaughter should be humanely euthanized, not inhumanely dragged or pushed while being shocked and beaten onto the kill floor to be slaughtered for human consumption.
  • Inhumane methods of euthanasia for sick and injured animals: In Ohio, a factory farmer was videotaped killing sick pigs by hanging them execution-style from a tractor, leaving them to writhe in the air for minutes on end. He 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.

The Board would have six years to implement these minimum standards, allowing producers ample time to transition to more humane systems. If the measure is enacted, Ohioans for Humane Farms hopes that the Livestock Board would immediately adopt minimum standards that address euthanasia and downer animals.

"It is cruel and inhumane to confine animals in cages so small they can't turn around and extend their limbs," stated Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. "Ohio citizens can help prevent farm animal cruelty by volunteering to gather signatures to put this common-sense initiative on the ballot."

"Ohioans care about the treatment of all animals, including farm animals. We can each help improve animal welfare in our state by supporting this modest measure," added Hope Brustein, executive director of the Geauga Humane Society.

"The vast majority of consumers oppose commonplace yet extreme factory farm cruelties," said Gene Baur, president of Farm Sanctuary. "With this campaign, Ohioans will have their voices heard when it comes to some of the worst abuses of the factory farming industry."

Similar laws have already been enacted in Michigan, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Maine and Oregon.

The HSUS has more than 400,000 Ohio supporters. Farm Sanctuary is the nation's leading farm animal protection organization.

Facts


  • In March 2009, the HBO documentary Death on a Factory Farm revealed appalling mistreatment of pigs on an Ohio factory farm, including immobilization inside tiny crates and the killing of pigs by hanging them execution-style.
  • Across Ohio, crated veal calves are tethered by the neck and can barely move, pigs in severe confinement bite the metal bars of their crates, and hens can get trapped and even impaled in their wire cages. There is overwhelming science demonstrating that such extreme confinement is detrimental to the animals' welfare.
  • Caging animals in high densities 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.

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Media contacts:

Erin Williams, The HSUS, 301-721-6446, ewilliams@humanesociety.org

Meredith Turner, Farm Sanctuary, 646-369-6212, mturner@farmsanctuary.org

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