Thursday, April 8th, 2010
Area farmer to help set livestock standards
By Nancy Allen
Darke County hog farmer Jeff Wuebker has been appointed by Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland to serve on the 13-member Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board.
Mercer County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) Administrator Nikki Hawk reported the news to board members during their meeting Wednesday.
Wuebker, of Versailles, has been co-owner of Wuebker Farms since 2001. He is president of the Ohio Soybean Association and is a member of the Ohio Corn Growers Association and Ohio Cattleman's Association. He received a bachelor's degree from The Ohio State University in 1993.
"It's good news we have someone from this area who was chosen," Hawk said, adding that Wuebker was the only ag person from the area appointed to the board.
Strickland signed HB 414 into law March 31, clearing the way to implement the rules and choose who will serve on the board. Ohio voters approved a constitutional amendment (Issue II) in November creating the board, which will set standards for farm animal care and well-being that take into account factors such as the protection of safe, local food supplies and accepted veterinary practices. Farmers who violate the rules will face civil penalties.
Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) Director Robert Boggs will chair the board and plans to hold regional meetings to begin to gather public input on livestock care standards.
The board will hold its initial meeting and then schedule at least four public meetings across the state during the summer and have the standards ready by fall.
Also at the meeting Wednesday, Technician Matt Heckler reported the office received 30 requests to design and build grass waterways with construction to start in July or August, 15 requests to design and build wetlands and one request for a tile replacement project proposed for construction next year.
He also reported that two tile replacement projects located at Burrville Road and state Route 29, and on state Route 118 just north of Coldwater, are done. Work continues on a third tile replacement project at the intersection of U.S. 127 and U.S. 33 near Mercer.
Following the meeting, board members held a public hearing about a proposed tile replacement project north of Rockford off the east side of state Route 118.
The RK Davis-Shaffer project involves replacing about 4,000 feet of tile in a 110-acre area that isn't draining properly due to broken down tile that has formed suck holes in the ground.
Two of the landowners, Steve Sheets and Rick Davis, said they wanted the project done, after which SWCD board members unanimously passed a motion to certify the project and forward it to Mercer County commissioners for review.
Board members also approved a long-range plan for the Mercer SWCD for the next five years. The document helps guide the board and staff to structure programs around local needs, Hawk said.
A copy of the plan is available for view at the SWCD office and Hawk said she plans to put it on the office's Web site at www.mercercountyohio.org/swcd in the next week.
The 13 members of the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board:
• Robert Boggs, director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA), will be chairman of the livestock board.
• Jeff Wuebker of Versailles, co-owner of Wuebker Farms
• Tony Forshey, Columbus, state veterinarian for ODA.
• Leon Weaver, a dairy farmer from Montpelier in northwestern Ohio.
• Bobby Moser, vice president for agricultural administration and the dean of the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University.
• Jeffrey LeJeune, an associate professor of food and animal health at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster.
• Harold Dates, president and chief executive officer of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Cincinnati.
• Jerry Lahmers, a veterinarian and farmer from Newcomerstown.
• Lisa M. Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks.
• Robert Cole, former executive director of the Franklin County Farm Service Agency office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
• Stacey Atherton, a farmer from Newark.
• Bill Moody, Knox County, a family farmer and former deputy director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. He has been named to the board by the Ohio Senate president.
• The Speaker of the Ohio House has yet to name an appointee.