Mixed Emotions, Opinions in Ohio

Last week, news hit that HSUS was pulling out of Ohio. Skedaddling; leaving for good.  Agriculturalists across Ohio, and the nation, cheered together instantaneously.  Wordage from OH Governor, Ted Strickland, such as he will “strongly encourage tougher penalties on puppy mills” led us to believe that no real harm had been done to OH but that HSUS was defeated and rushing home with their tails tucked under.  Our celebratory praises were short-lived and possibly misplaced.  Sure, Ohioans accomplished a huge feat: stopping HSUS from presenting a ballot initiative. But at what price did that victory come?

Pacelle’s blog, A Humane Nation, praises HSUSer’s and their effort of buying signatures in Ohio.  He also jumps a bit to conclusions about how successful he was in this agreement.  You can read his blog for yourself but just remember, he is good at twisting words. (p.s. I really hate that I linked to anything related to positive opinions about HSUS but to be fair and unlike them, I did. Please don’t hold it against me).
I’ve been talking to several friends in Ohio who farm and I’ve gotten a variety of opinions.  One told me that he was thrilled that HSUS was gone and would never be coming back — another farmer was pretty ticked that after the end of the year, he could no longer purchase gestation crates for his swine facility.  Misconceptions are occurring everywhere and it’s no wonder.  If you didn’t read the full agreement (which I suggest you do) between HSUS and Ohio, you’d have no idea of some of the provisions within.

I’ll summarize some of the major points.  This is, in my mind, a hard fought and won battle for Ohio. However, with every battle there comes some casualties.

  • Part 7 – “Recommendation will be made to the OLCSB for current hog producers and to phase out
    the use of gestation crates by December 31, 2025. By that date time all sows must be
    housed using alternative systems. After December 31, 2010, any new facilities must
    utilize alternative sow housing (not gestation crates). It is understood that in all housing
    systems, sows may be housed in breeding/gestation stalls until they are confirmed
    • Good/bad — The good side is that hog farmers can buy gestation crates, as is, until December.  All those who want to continue using current practices may until December, 2025. I’d like to point out that science and technology are always evolving, in 15 years a more efficient and more welfare friendly system may have been developed. In which case, no one will care about gestation crates anymore. The down side is that the HSUS still has their grubby paw in the mix on hog farms and has succeeded in getting some regulations, while small, invoked. And I don’t know anybody who wants that.
  • Part 9  – “HSUS will also not initiate litigation (nuisance or otherwise) to attempt to use legal process to obtain the same ends as articulated in the ballot initiative in Ohio through the life of this agreement. HSUS will not fund, advise or otherwise support other organizations to move forward in their place.”
    • This is good. In short, they’re not going to further pursue a ballot initiative. This saves Ohio millions of dollars that can be spent on improving animal well-being instead of being poured down the toilet for campaigning.
  • Part 10 – “The HSUS will not submit a constitutional amendment on animal welfare in 2010 to the Ohio Secretary of State. Failure to implement the provisions related to wild and dangerous animals or the reforms recommended to the OLCSB by December 31, 2010
    could void the agreement and allow the HSUS to pursue a ballot initiative whenever it
    chooses. However, if the terms of this agreement are met and implemented to the
    satisfaction of all parties, the agreement will extend to January 1, 2014. At that time the
    agreement shall be extended through January 1, 2017, and subsequently through January
    1, 2020, if the terms continue to be met, and no party shall reasonably withhold its
    consent to the extensions. Any future pursuit of a ballot initiative by HSUS could nullify
    the limitation on gestation crate or battery cage facilities until and unless other lawful
    prohibitions come to exist.”
    • This is not so good – basically, if OLCSB doesn’t take some direction from HSUS on wild and dangerous animals, they’ll renig on their end and pursue a ballot initiative.  Then we’d have to go through all the drama all over again.

I very, very strongly encourage you to read the agreement. Like I said, there are mixed opinions and the aforementioned were mine.  You may have your own.  There are good and bad sides to the Ohio saga – let’s try not to be pessimists and instead, let’s face the uncertain future with a smile.  Remember what your mom used to say – kill ’em with kindness.
Until next time,