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Ohio shows support for local farmers

On 3 November, citizens of the US state of Ohio showed their support for local farmers and food safety by voting in support of Issue 2.

The proposed Livestock Care Standards Board passed with more than 63% of the vote thanks to an inspiring grassroots effort by farmers and ranchers, agriculture organisations, veterinarians, and consumers to protect Ohio's agriculture industry. These individuals should be commended for effectively reaching out to the public to share the importance of animal agriculture within their state.

While this may be a win for agriculture, the battle is far from over. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has already committed to bringing an initiative against modern farming practices to Ohio in 2010. By opposing a multi-disciplined board setting animal care standards and threatening their own ballot initiative to circumvent the board in the future, it's apparent that animal rights groups such as HSUS are more interested in the elimination of animal agriculture than improving animal care. Because Ohio's newly-approved farm animal welfare board does not fulfil their political agenda, these activists plan to return with a multi-million-dollar campaign designed to drive producers out of business.

Issue 2 has allowed for meaningful conversations about agriculture to begin between farmers and consumers. This dialogue must continue in order to protect the livelihood of today's farm families. Agriculturists across the country will be watching closely as the new regulatory panel is put to work. Although Ohio has set a new precedent, state agriculture leaders should show caution before using the new board as a model because the needs and political atmosphere of each state vary widely. There may be other effective ways to counter attacks from activists that should be explored.

The Animal Agriculture Alliance

Natalie Berkhout

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