Issue 2 is a multi-million dollar campaign by corporate agri-business to write itself into the Ohio constitution by establishing a "Livestock Care Standards Board." Despite masquerading as good for local farmers, the truth is that the ballot measure seeks to bypass the democratic process and instead allow special interests to determine the fate of Ohio’s livestock farmers and industry. The proposed Board would be politically appointed and have an extraordinary level of unchecked power to make major shifts in policies that affect family farmers, including everything from food safety to animal ID to factory farm zoning regulations. These decisions will not require public input, review, evaluation or even an avenue to appeal decisions.
If Ohio lets the interests of corporate agri-business take over their constitution, this dangerous pattern can repeat in other states across the country.
Here are some important points that explain why Issue 2 is so off base:
- Constitutional amendments are often reserved for issues that affect the rights of all citizens. Ohio’s constitution creates very few boards; among the ones that it has created are the State Board of Education and other things of that stature. The many boards and committees that govern agriculture in Ohio are not named in the constitution. This proposal is a curious departure from that norm.
- The Livestock Care Standards Board would have the power to override any act by the state legislature, the Ohio Department of Agriculture and other initiatives and referendums brought before the public (outside of a new constitutional amendment) that relate to animal agriculture. This is an extraordinary level of unchecked power.
- In contrast to decisions made by the Ohio Department of Agriculture or the legislature, the Board’s rulemaking will not require public input, review, evaluation or an avenue to appeal decisions. The Board’s decision is final.
- Because so many political appointees will be present on the Board (most made by the Governor and two by the Speaker of the House and President of the Senate), it is more likely to be subject to partisan abuse in either direction. At its worst, this means that appointees could remove the oversight authority of other government bodies in favor of factory farms and at the expense of family farms who take good care of their animals and land.