Saturday, October 17, 2009

GUEST COLUMN: "Issue 2 is Good for Ohio"

By Rep. Jean Schmidt (R, OH-02)

On November 3rd, voters will go to the polls to vote on local and state ballot issues. As a member of the House’s Committee on Agriculture, I am particularly interested in Issue 2, which will determine how best to regulate livestock farming in Ohio. While this may not seem like an important issue, it is vital to Ohio’s agriculture community and to Ohio families already struggling to put food on the table.

Passage of Issue 2 would establish the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board. The Board will decide the policies and best practices for the care and treatment of farm animals in Ohio. The Board will be appointed by the Governor and State Legislature and will include family farmers, farming organizations, veterinarians, consumers, food safety experts, a representative of the humane society and a Dean of an Ohio Agriculture College. In short, this Board would be responsible for ensuring that livestock farming is conducted in a safe and humane manner.

Activists from outside the State have threatened to push their own initiative under the guise of “protecting animals.” While these groups talk of noble intentions, the fact remains that, in states where they have successfully enacted their initiatives, family farms have been driven out of business and the cost of food has increased.

I grew up on a small farm and am honored, through my position on the House Committee on Agriculture, to work each day with farmers from across my district, Ohio and the country. Ohio’s family farmers work very hard to make sure we have the food we need to feed our families. The animals they raise for human consumption are their top priority. They work hard to make sure that the animals are healthy and safe for our families.

The livestock and poultry producers from Ohio are hard working, intelligent business people, who know the welfare of their animals is of paramount importance. They are diligent about the health and welfare of animals -- not only for their bottom line and the safety of consumers, but because it is the right thing to do.

The opponents of Issue 2 will tell you that this ballot initiative is being pushed by big agri-business. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Ohio Farm Bureau represents family farmer’s interests here in Ohio and in Washington. They ensure that farmers have a voice in the policies and regulations that affect them daily.

I have endorsed Issue 2 and urge all Ohioan’s to support this much needed ballot imitative. It is the best way for the people of Ohio to decide how we regulate farming in our state.