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April 24, 2013

New HSUS Agriculture Advisory Council Brings Farmers, Processors and Animal Welfare Advocates Together

Council Will Foster Better Animal Welfare and Environmental Stewardship

To advance humane and sustainable agricultural practices in Ohio, The Humane Society of the United States has formed an agriculture council made up of farmers and producers. The announcement was made at The HSUS’ Humane Lobby Day, a day when residents from across Ohio meet with legislators at the capital to advocate for stronger animal protection laws.

The HSUS Agriculture Advisory Council for Ohio will work to connect livestock producers who manage their animals using higher animal welfare practices with consumers seeking higher welfare products, and will help other farmers transition to more humane animal management. The group will also showcase those farmers who are good stewards of their animals and the land and advocate for stronger rural communities. Additionally, the Ohio Agriculture Council will advise HSUS on issues affecting Ohio’s family farmers.

Mardy Townsend, a founding member of the new council, said: “As an Ohio cattle farmer, I believe small and mid-size family farmers have much common ground with The HSUS and Ohio consumers when it comes to the treatment of farm animals. Working together to address the future of animal agriculture and find solutions to animal welfare challenges is a positive step."

Karen Minton, Ohio state director for The HSUS, said: “With animal agriculture being dominated by industrial agribusiness interests, it is important to support and work with Ohio’s sustainable farmers who strive to be good stewards  of the animals and the land. We are pleased to have this great group of Ohio farmers and processors advising us on how best to provide that support.”

John Dinon, HSUS’ Ohio director of outreach and engagement, added, “HSUS members care deeply about where their food comes from and want to avoid products from industrial farms. We are excited to connect Ohio’s conscientious consumers to the kind of traditional family farmers they want to support.”

The founding members of The HSUS Agriculture Advisory Council for Ohio are William Miller, an organic farmer from Butler County; Mardy Townsend, a grassfed beef producer from northeast Ohio; Bruce Rickard of Fox Hollow Farms in Knox County; Joe Logan, an Ohio farmer who works with the Ohio Environmental Council; and Warren Taylor, co-owner and “head dairy nerd” for Snowville Creamery in Pomeroy Ohio.

With the rise of industrial-scale production, the nation has lost more than 95 percent of its egg farmers, 90 percent of its pig farmers, and 40 percent of its cattle farmers and ranchers in the last 30 years. High demand for meat pressures farmers to opt for more industrialized production systems where they can lose touch with the animals. These systems also squeeze traditional family farmers who have a harder time competing with factory farms.

For these reasons, The HSUS advocates the Three R’s of eating with a conscience: refining our dietary choices by switching to products that meet high animal welfare standards; reducing our consumption of animal products; and replacing animal products in the diet with plant-based options.

The HSUS has been working with Ohio agriculture groups and the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board, which has implemented a number of important reforms on agriculture issues in the state, including a phase out of veal crates for calves and gestation crates for breeding sows, a moratorium on new barren battery cages for egg-laying hens, requiring humane euthanasia of livestock, prohibiting the transport of downer livestock, and banning the tail-docking of dairy cows. 

Media Contact: Anna West: 301-258-1518; awest@humanesociety.org

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