ohio issue 2
Board nears completion of standards for farm animal care
The Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board accepted an enormous task nearly a year ago when charged with the responsibility of developing rules for the care and well-being of livestock in Ohio. Since that time, the board has proposed numerous standards on topics ranging from euthanasia to housing. To date, two sets of the board's standards have completed the rulemaking process and are now effective. Several others await either final approval by the board or review by the Ohio legislature's Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR). The following summarizes the board's progress.
1. Livestock care standards developed by the board that became effective on January 20, 2011 include:
- Euthanasia. The standard outlines acceptable euthanasia methods for each species of livestock, and provides guidelines for use of each method of euthanasia. See the final regulation in the Ohio Administrative Code, Section 901:12-1.
- Civil penalties. The rule establishes penalties and a notification procedure for violations of the livestock care standards. Violations range from minor--punishable by a penalty of up to $500 for a first offense and $1,000 for subsequent offenses within 60 months of the first--to major--punished by a civil penalty of $1,000 to $5,000 for a first offense, and $5,000 to $10,000 for each subsequent offense within 60 months of the first. A major violation is one that imperils the animal’s life or causes protracted “disfigurement,” “health impairment,” or “loss or impairment of the function of a limb or bodily organ.” See the final rule at OAC Section 901:12-2.
2. Livestock care standards submitted by the board and awaiting final review by JCARR:
General considerations for the care and welfare of livestock. Establishes general management requirements for all livestock, including feed and water, management, health and transportation. Key provisions in this standard:
- Housing, equipment and handling facilities must minimize bruises and injuries.
- Restraints must be minimal.
- Handling devices must be humane. Electric prods are permissible if hand held, battery powered and 50 volts or less, but may not be used on poultry, equine, alpacas, llamas, calves weighing less than 200 pounds, pigs weighing less than 35 pounds, on sensitive areas or on non-ambulatory disabled animals.
- Malicious or reckless throwing, dragging or dropping of an animal is prohibited, but minimal dragging of a disabled animal may occur in certain circumstances.
- Picking up or carrying an animal by its ears or tail is prohibited, as is pulling an animal's legs in positions or directions that cause distress to the animal.
- Animals must be monitored regularly and steps must be taken when evidence of disease, injury, or parasites is present.
- A “Veterinary-Client-Patient-Relationship” is necessary to obtain and administer prescriptive drugs to livestock.
- Health and medical practices must be performed humanely.
- Disabled and Distressed Livestock. The proposed rule sets forth standards of care for distressed and disabled livestock, including disabled "downer" livestock, which the rule refers to as "non-ambulatory disabled" animals. Action must be taken to address an animal's situation, either by caring for, monitoring, treating, transporting, slaughtering or euthanizing the animal. The rule prohibits loading a disabled, non-ambulatory animal for transport to a non-terminal market or collection facility. If a disabled or distressed animal is at a non-terminal market or collection facility and there is no option for immediate sale, standards of care must be provided or the animal must be released or euthanized. The owner must keep records of treatments, medications and withdrawal times.
3. Standards in draft form and currently open to public comment include:
Standards for Individual Species. In addition to the general consideration standards for all livestock, the board has proposed individual standards for goats, sheep, turkeys, poultry, swine, beef, dairy, veal, equine, alpacas and llamas. The individual standards address unique needs and issues regarding feed and water, management and transportation for each specie. Key issues addressed in the individual standards include:
- Providing newborns with colustrum or colustrum replacement within the first 24 hours.
Standards for pen sizes, housing materials, lighting, air circulation, breeding and birthing pens and outdoor pens. Of interest in these standards:
- Restrictions on the use of gestation crates for swine after December 31, 2025.
- For new farms not in existence on the rule's effective date, prohibition of conventional poultry battery cages that do not provide areas for nesting, scratching, perching or bathing.
- Management of groups of animals.
Standards for tethering, dehorning, castrating, shearing, induced molting, tail docking and treatment of tusks, beaks, teeth, hooves and toes. Of particular interest in these standards:
- Restrictions on tethering and requirements for group housing of veal calves after December 31, 2017.
- Beginning January 1, 2018, tail docking of dairy cattle may occur only if medically necessary and performed by a licensed veterinarian.
To review the standards and the status of the work by the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board, visit this website.
Proposed rule addresses standards for farm animal euthanasia
The Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board has developed its first set of proposed standards regarding farm animal welfare, pursuant to the constitutional amendment passed last year by Ohio voters as Issue 2 (see our earlier posts on Issue 2). The Livestock Care Standards Board unanimously approved standards regarding euthanasia of farm animals on October 5, 2010. The ODA will now carry the Board's proposed standards through the administrative rulemaking process.
The proposed standards define acceptable methods of euthanasia, which includes inhalant agents, injectable agents, captive bolt guns, blunt force, gunshot, cervical dislocation, decapitation, electrocution, foam hypoxia, maceration and exsanguination. The proposal establishes different acceptable methods and guidelines for different species, which includes equine, poultry, swine, cattle, goats, sheep, alpaca and llamas. Provisions also address general considerations for performing euthansia, such as euthanization of animals unlikely to recover from illness or injury, determination of death, unsuccessful euthanasia, disposal of animals and mass euthanasia. The rule references a civil penalty provision for violations, but the actual civil penalty provision is still under development by the Board.
Interesting to note is how the proposed euthanasia rule relates to the animal welfare agreement entered into last June by the State of Ohio, Humane Society of the United States, Ohio Farm Bureau and several other agricultural organizations. Regarding euthanasia, the animal welfare agreement states:
"Recommendations will be made to The Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board (OLCSB) to take action on issues related to downer cattle and humane euthanasia using language consistent with the proposed ballot initiative."
The proposed ballot initiative referred to in the animal welfare agreement is the HSUS-led initiative that could have been on the upcoming November ballot, but was pulled as part of HSUS's compromise in the animal welfare agreement. The ballot initiative proposed amending the Ohio Constitution to include this language on euthanasia:
"Require a farm owner or operator to ensure that all on-farm killing of cows or pigs be performed in a humane manner using methods explicitly deemed “Acceptable” by the American Veterinary Medical Association. This standard shall also include a prohibition on strangulation of cows and pigs as a form of euthanasia."
Note that the animal welfare agreement does not require the adoption of the ballot initiative language in the euthanasia standards; it states only that "recommendations will be made" to the Board to take action using language consistent with the proposed ballot language. A review of the record available on the Board's website does not indicate whether any party to the animal welfare agreement made such recommendations to the Board. The Board had already begun working on the euthanasia standards prior to the announcement of the animal welfare agreement in June. A review of the Board's proposal, however, indicates that the euthanasia standards do not precisely duplicate the HSUS's proposed ballot language. The standards don't include a specific prohibition against strangulation of cows and pigs. Instead, the standards do not list strangulation as an acceptable method of euthanasia. Nor do the standards specifically reference the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) acceptable standards; but many of the Board's acceptable standards are similar to AVMA acceptable standards. Whether or not recommendations were made to the Board as promised in the animal welfare agreement, the Board's proposed euthanasia standards do appear to be "consistent with" the ballot initiative language on euthanasia.
ODA announced the Board's proposed euthanasia standards today and will accept comments on the standards until October 20, 2010. Following review of comments, ODA will submit the package to the joint legislative committee that oversees the administrative rulemaking process. To view the proposed euthanasia standards, visit the ODA website, here.
Now that the Ohio legislature has enacted an implementation bill and Governor Strickland has announced board appointments, the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board could soon begin developing standards for farm animal care in Ohio. Voters approved Issue 2, the constiututional amendment creating the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board, in November of 2009.
Last week, the governor signed Issue 2's implementation bill (House Bill 414) after legislators wrangled with two different implementation proposals for more than two months. A primary point of contention was funding--H.B. 414 originally proposed an increase of the commercial seed and feed inspection fee and allowed the transfer of at least $500,000 annually from the commercial seed and feed fund to the livestock care standards fund. A Senate proposed bill, S.B. 233, would have provided the livestock care standards fund with $162, 280 transferred from the School Employees Health Care Board. Neither provision survived in the final enacted law, which instead requires the director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture to rely on existing funds within the department until the legislature appropriates money for the livestock care standards fund.
The final approved bill also establishes board member terms and vacancies, allows board member travel reimbursements but does not allow compensation, and requires the board to meet at least three times per year. The law requires the director of ODA to assist the board by hiring employees, submitting the board's proposed rules for approval, enforcing the rules and investigating potential rule violations. According to the law, the director must obtain permission to enter premises for inspection purposes.
Two provisions in the law address animal identification and organic production--these provisions were in the Senate's version and were added to the final bill . The new law states that the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board may not establish a statewide animal identification system and clarifies that standards of the USDA's national organic program will prevail if there is a conflict between the organic certification standards and the Ohio livestock care standards.
Despite recommendations to do so, the new law does not define the term "family farmer," but only reiterates the constitutional amendment's requirement that three of the board members shall be "family farmers." Nor does the legislature guide the board on the meaning of the "well-being" of livestock, which the board must address in its standards and rules. We hoped the new law would clarify whether "well-being" includes both physical and emotional well-being, an issue that could bring legal challenges in the future (see our earlier post on "Lessons from New Jersey"). The implementation law does define "livestock" as equine raised for any purpose and the following animals if raised for human food and fiber purposes: porcine (hogs), bovine (cattle, oxen, buffalo), caprine (goats), ovine (sheep), poultry, alpaca and llamas.
Soon after Govenor Strickland signed H.B. 414, he announced his appointments to the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board. Information on the board appointments is available here. Once the speaker of the house of representatives and president of the senate each make one of the two final board appointments, the board can begin its work of developing standards for the care and well-being of livestock in Ohio.
Meanwhile, proponents of a second ballot initiative on farm animal welfare are currently circulating around the state seeking signatures to place another proposal on the November general election ballot. The proponents hope to tell the board, through a second constitutional amendment, a few standards that it must adopt, which includes prohibitions on certain types of confinement, requirements for humane killing of cows and pigs and restrictions against the sale or transport of downer cows. See our earlier post on "Ohio may see a second constitutional amendment on farm animal welfare."
Not surprisingly, a group called Ohioans for Humane Farms has requested a petition initiative certification from the Ohio Attorney General that could place a second proposed consititutional amendment on farm animal care before Ohio voters this fall. Ohioans approved "Issue 2" last fall, a constitutional amendment that created the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board to create standards for the care and well-being of farm animals (see earlier posts.)
The current petition certification request for a new initiative, submitted January 27 and signed by over 1,000 Ohio electors, requests approval to circulate a petition that proposes amending the Constitution to require the newly created Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board "to adopt certain minimum standards that will prevent the cruel and inhumane treatment of farm animals, enhance food safety, and strengthen Ohio farms."
The petition's proposed constitutional amendment goes beyond the expected prohibitions on confinement of pregnant pigs, laying hens and veal calves that farm animal welfare advocates have advanced in other states, but it does not conflict with the language enacted by Ohio's Issue 2. According to the proposed ballot initiative, the minimum requirements the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board would be required to adopt include:
- Prohibition of the confinement of veal calves, pregnant pigs and egg-laying hens on a farm, for all or the majority of any day, in a way that prevents the animal from lying down, standing up, fully extending his or her limbs, or turning around freely. There are exceptions for scientific or agricultural research; veterinary treatments; rodeo, fair, or other exhibitions; 4-H and similar programs; during slaughter; or for pregnant pigs, in the seven days prior to giving birth. A "farm" is land, buildings and equipment used for the commercial production of animals for food an fiber.
- Requirements that all killings of cows and pigs be performed in a humane manner using methods deemed "acceptable" by the American Veterinary Medical Association, and prohibition of any killing of cows and pigs by strangulation.
- Prohibitions against the sale, transport or receipt for use in the human food supply of any "downer" cow or calf that is too sick to stand or walk.
- Misdemeanor charges for any violation of the standards developed by the Livestock Care Standards Board, punishable by up to one year of jail and/or $1,000.
If passed by Ohio voters, the proposed constitutional amendment would take effect within six years of the date of its adoption.
The Ohio Attorney General must act on the initiative petition by February 5, 2010. If the Attorney General certifies that the petition's summary contains a fair and truthful statement of the proposed amendment, the petition goes to the Ohio Ballot Board, who must ensure within ten days that the proposal contains only one constitutional amendment. If approved, the Attorney General files the petition with the Secretary of State, and the proponents may then begin collecting signatures on the petition. The number of valid signatures required to place the initiative on the ballot is at least 10% of the number of votes cast for governor in the last election (total votes for governor in 2006 were 4,022,928). At least 44 of Ohio's 88 counties must be represented with signatures from at least 5% of each county's votes cast for governor in the last election. The proponent must file the petitions by June 30, which is 125 days before the date of the general election date of November 2, and the proponent will have ten days to correct the insufficiency of signatures after a determination by the Secretary of State.
According to a press release issued by the Humane Society of the United States, the ballot proposal by Ohioans for Humane Farms is supported by The Humane Society of the United States, Farm Sanctuary, Ohio Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Toledo Area Humane Society, Geauga Humane Society, Ohio League of Humane Voters, Center for Food Safety, United Farm Workers, Consumer Federation of America and Center for Science in the Public Interest.
View the initiative petition for the Livestock Board Amendment on the Ohio Attorney General's website at http://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Legal/Ballot-Initiatives.
Representatives Sayre and Bolon introduced the implementation legislation for State Issue 2's Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board on Tuesday, January 19. H.B. 414 does the following:
- Defines "livestock" as equine animals, regardless of the purpose for which the equine are raised; porcine, bovine, caprine and ovine animals; poultry; alpaca and llamas.
- Requires the appointment of the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board within 45 days of the bill's effective date and establishes board member provisions such as terms of office, vacancies, meetings and compensation.
- Reiterates Issue 2's language regarding the purpose of the board.
- Directs the board to adopt rules regarding civil penalties for violating care standards.
- Establishes duties of the director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture for assisting the board and grants authority to the director and his/her representative to enter property for inspection and investigation.
- Prohibits anyone from providing false information in response to the livestock care standard requirements, or otherwise violating the rules developed by the board.
- Creates an Ohio livestock care standards fund and authorizes the director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture to use the fund for program administration and enforcement.
- Increases the commercial feed and seed inspection fee in ORC 923.44 by 15 cents over the next three years, in five cent increments per year--to 30, 35 and 40 cents per ton--and increases the minimum fee from 25 to 50 dollars.
- Allows the director of ODA to request annual transfers of not less than $500,000 from the commercial feed and seed fund to the Ohio livestock care standards fund.
- States that the law does not affect the authority of county humane societies or officials.
- Clarifies that the law does not apply to food processing production activities regulated under ORC Chapter 1717.
View H.B. 414 here.