Monday, November 02, 2009

Farm interests push Ohio ballot issue as device to head off a measure from animal-rights activists

Tomorrow, Ohio voters will decide "Issue 2," a ballot initiative that would amend the state constitution to create a Livestock Care Standards Board charged with setting rules for animal care, maintaining food safety and encouraging locally grown and raised food. The ballot item has created a debate not only on the issue at hand, but also on how agriculture should be regulated, Jeff Bell reports for Business First of Columbus.

Some farmers see the amendment as a way to keep animal-rights groups from setting the agenda, Bell writes, but others think that it wouild be overkill and that the issue would be better addressed by communication between lawmakers and interest groups. The Farmers Union, Ohio Ecological Food & Farm Association, Farm to Consumer Foundation, the Ohio chapter of the Sierra Club and Food & Water Watch all oppose the amendment, while Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, Gov. Ted Strickland, a long list of state and municipal officials and a number of business associations are among those endorsing the initiative. (Read more)

The pro-amendment group has created a mostly one-sided advertising battle with $4 million for a campaign that includes up to six commercials in support of Issue 2, Jim Provance of the Toledo Blade reports. The groups against the ballot issue have decided not to try and match the pro-issue advertising blitz. "They have so much money for TV ads, but we’re focusing on grass-roots efforts, using volunteers to spread the word,” Sarah Alexander, spokeswoman for the Ohio Against Constitutional Takeover coalition, tells Provance.

With passage of an animal-welfare referendum last year in California fresh in their minds, and fear that a similar measure might make it to the Ohio ballot if Issue 2 does not pass, supporters from Iowa, Georgia, Minnesota, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri and North Carolina have donated to the campaign. (Read more)

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