Thursday, October 29, 2009

Why Ohio Issue 2 matters to you!

HildePeople have asked us how they can do more to help family farmers. Today, we have a clear step you can take – if you live in Ohio, VOTE NO on Issue 2 on next week’s November ballot. If you don’t live in Ohio, spread the word to your friends and family who do that Issue 2 is a bad idea for family farmers and consumers, and sets a scary precedent that could radically affect policies in your own state if it succeeds.

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.
For more information on Ohio Issue 2 and to access some tools and resources to help rally your neighbors, friends and family to action, check out


  1. Anonymous10:36 AM

    Yes, this is a very serious issue. Thanks for your well written article. I have sent this link out to all my lists.


  2. Thanks, Farm Aid, for offering opposition to Issue 2 in Ohio. Could Willie Nelson please tape a brief message we could share with his farming friends in Ohio? Farmers and all Ohioans are being lied to on who benefits from this industry-dominated board. Please, Willie, tape something we can post on YouTube for voters in Ohio. They respect and trust you to be on their side. We need help to defeat this factory farm takeover of our agriculture department.

  3. Anonymous10:12 AM

    Thank you Farm Aid. The vote No campaign is fighting a huge battle here in Ohio. Corporate Agriculture with millions of dollars is running TV and radio ads, and has deceiving signs posted all over our state. Most of the vote no supporters are non-profit groups and small, sustainable farm owners. There is no million dollar budget for advertising! We need all the help we can get to keep this issue from passing!
    Jill Smith
    Ohio farmer

  4. I just had a robo call from Governor Strickland and Senator Voinovich urging me to support Issue 2. How can we expose these government leaders' desire to pre-empt our rights for input into how animals are treated? Obviously, money speaks with a very loud voice.

    Mary K. Holmes

  5. Brad Lentz, Agricultural Education Teacher and Consumer4:32 PM

    I know there are a lot of small, family farms supporting Issue 2 and I would also imagine many of them support Farm Aid, so I would first think that it be appropriate that you include a link to the other side of the issue:

    Also, the Ohio legislature ultimately retains authority over the reach of the Livestock Care Standards Board. Proposals by the Livestock Care Standards Board will be subject to review through the public rule-making process. If issues two passes the governor would have to appoint 5 republicans and 5 democrats, because the Senate (Republican control) has to appoint one family farmer, the House (democratic control) has to appoint one family farmer, and the 13th member is the ohio dept of Ag director who is a democrat. Issue 2 has never been a D or R issue it has been what is best for Ohio Issue. The bottom line is that the American farmer feeds about 130 people both here and oversees and with fewer and fewer people going into farming, they need protection. The Livestock Care Standards Board would provide protection from future special interest groups coming into Ohio. Issue 2 is not about big ag business, it's about protecting our livstock and farmers, both large and small and creating a safe and locally grown food source at an affordable price. Agriculture is Ohio's largest industry, generating some $90 billion of economic activity and creating over 1 million jobs. A yes vote for Issue 2 supports all Ohio Farmers.

  6. Vote Yes on Issue 2. I don't want these out of state, California pukes telling me how farming should be ran. Ohio farmers support Issue 2. There is bi-partisan support from Ohio politicians because outside interests have no place in making rules to govern our farmers. The ONLY Ohio farm organization that is not in favor of Issue 2 is the Farmers Union, made up of lobbyists from out of state.

  7. Thank you Farm Aid for deciding with Ohio's farmers on Issue 2. I'm voting NO, and have rallied my friends to do the same. Local farming is the new green economy, and that doesn't include the ill, industrial animal lots where watersheds are poisoned and the wealth of farming is condensed into the hands of a few agri-businesses.

  8. Anonymous2:02 PM

    To Mike:
    There is nothing in this measure that will prevent or discourage PETA and the Humane Society from forwarding their agenda in Ohio. That will be up to the voters. You are being duped if you think Issue 2 has anything to do with that. They have scared you into THINKING that's true, but really it's a power grab that puts a board into place that could regulate every backyard chicken coop, and family who raises a beef cow or pig or two. The big agribusiness folks saw this as an opportunity to FORCE us to buy their caged chicken eggs and inhumanely raised beef and pork, putting the grassfed and cage-free livestock producers out of business. WAKE UP! YOU ARE BEING FOOLED!
    Trish Mumme, Alexandria OHIO

  9. Corporate agri-business got too much power in places like Iowa, where the environments of some communities were ruined by allowing tens of thousands of animals to be caged together in small enclosures. The air, water, and land quality is adversely affected, and property values go way down. If you want mega-farms to move in next door, make boatloads of money while stinking up entire towns, and ruin the value of your own property, you support Issue 2.

    If you want to PROTECT your property value and rights, and have a say in livestock care standards, VOTE NO on Issue 2!

  10. Just came from the voting. misleading wording on the ballot. . using the words like "families" and "...encouraging local farms" to sway the un informed voter. creepy.

  11. Anonymous10:12 PM

    The way it was written on the ballot was a disgrace... un real...
    it looks like it's going to pass by a landslide... what a said day for the family farmer, animal lovers and organic distributors alike