Friday, July 02, 2010

Humane Society, Ohio Farm Bureau strike controversial agreement on animal welfare

The Humane Society of the United States and Ohio Farm Bureau reached an eleventh-hour compromise Wednesday to keep a referendum on animal cruelty off the fall ballot in exchange for stricter animal-welfare regulations. "The deal-maker apparently was [Gov. Ted] Strickland's agreement to support two new laws and sign an executive order," Alan Johnson of The Columbus Dispatch reports. "The laws relate to regulation of so-called puppy mills and toughening existing penalties for cockfighting."

"The new agreement made few strides on the most contentious issue that the ballot issue would have covered: restrictive confinement standards for egg-laying hens, pregnant sows and calves raised for veal," Johnson writes. Strickland said at a news conference, "I just did not think it was in Ohioans' best interests to have an acrimonious ballot issue debated. This is something that is good for Ohio agriculture and good for animal welfare in this state." Wayne Pacelle, president and chief executive officer of the Humane Society, told Johnson the governor was "very persuasive." (Read more)

The announcement was met by outrage in much of the agriculture community. "'Dismayed' and 'betrayed' are two words being used being used by farmers and ranchers in Ohio—and across the entire U.S.—in reaction to the compromise agreement between Ohio’s ag and livestock organizations and HSUS," Ken Anderson reports for Brownfield. Ohio Farm Bureau spokesman Joe Cornley said he understands the hurt feelings, but the group still agrees with detractors who think HSUS eventually wants to abolish animal agriculture. "I could not agree more with those people," Cornely says. "We at Ohio Farm Bureau fully recognize and believe that is the ultimate goal of the Humane Society of the United States—just as our ultimate goal is to not let that happen. We haven’t given up the battle—we’ve just changed the rules of engagement." (Read more)

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