Friday, September 30th, 2011
Zehringer signs historic document
Livestock care standards are first in the nation
By Nancy Allen
Ohio Department of Agriculture Director Jim Zehringer of Fort Recovery signs the. . .
FORT RECOVERY - Ohio's historic livestock care standards went into effect Thursday.
Ohio Department of Agriculture Director and Fort Recovery native Jim Zehringer signed the final administrative order on care standards for alpacas, beef and dairy cattle, goats, horses, llamas, pork, poultry, sheep and veal at Fort Recovery High School.
The standards are the first of their kind in the nation.
"Today marks a pivotal point in agriculture," Zehringer said before a crowd of invited Fort Recovery residents, family, school officials and FFA members. "We're setting the pace for the nation on what we're doing today in Fort Recovery."
A 13-member board was created in November 2009 after Ohio voters approved a constitutional amendment (Issue II) to create a uniform set of standards for farm animal care and well-being. Standards take into account factors such as the protection of safe, local food supplies and accepted veterinary practices, feeding, transportation, housing, slaughter and euthanasia of animals. Farmers who violate the rules will face civil penalties.
The board spent 18 months and held 70 meetings obtaining industry and public input while developing the rules.
The standards come more than two years after animal rights organization the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) threatened a ballot issue asking Ohio voters to set restrictions on the treatment of animals. HSUS and other animal rights groups dropped the bid in exchange for interest groups agreeing to support tougher livestock laws.
"It's going to give farmers of Ohio a clear path and vision on how livestock should be treated, on how they can expand and operate," Zehringer said. "That way there's no uncertainty."
The board consists of farmers, academics, veterinarians, Humane Society representatives and others with vast knowledge of the livestock industry, noted Zehringer, the board's chairman.
The standards, to give a few examples, state that: electric prods may not be used on poultry; horses must be transported in vehicles large enough for them to stand in a natural position without hitting their heads; and that, beginning in 2018, veal calves must be housed in enclosures with enough room for the animals to turn around. Minor violations can bring fines up to $1,000, while major, repeat violators can be fined up to $10,000.
The Ohio Department of Agriculture will be responsible for investigating violations and enforcing standards.
Zehringer said it "meant a lot" to him to sign the standards into effect at Fort Recovery High School, where he, his wife and three children graduated.
"It's great to be part of a county that is very important to agriculture and livestock production," he said. "It was a perfect place to sign this."
For more information on the board and to access the standards, go to ohiolivestockcarestandardsboard.gov