IMG_0003We agree with and support the premise of issue 2 but not as a constitutional amendment.

The same objective to thwart PETA and HSUS could have been accomplished by including the key words “agricultural best management practices for such care and well-being” in section 900 of the Ohio Revised Code. This we do support.

Our problem with this constitutional amendment is the excessive power it places in the hands of a 13-member group of non-elected bureaucrats. This constitutional amendment places in the Board’s hands the power to mandate whatever they choose, and it is the Department of Ag that will implement and enforce those decisions of the Board. (see the text of proposed amendment at  The text of the amendment includes “consider factors that include, but are not limited to,” which gives the Board authority far beyond the scope of its stated purpose. In the text “agricultural best management practices for such care and well-being” is the part that will thwart HSUS and their cronies. “Biosecurity,” “disease prevention,” “animal morbidity and mortality data,” “food safety practices,” and “the protection of local, affordable food supplies” are already covered in Ohio Revised Code.

Issue 2 is an expansion of State Government that creates unchecked power and new layers of unaccountable bureaucracy over our livestock farmers.

What did it take to twist the arms of all the members of both the House and Senate to make them take such a draconian measure? If we change the Constitution every time the wind blows from the wrong direction, what value remains in it? What next? Change the US Constitution to remove free speech and religious freedom?

The text of issue 2 shows just how rushed the process was and how little thought went into doing the job right. The Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board is not even an imperfect solution. It is not a solution at all. The correct solution is to add the proper language into Ohio Revised Code, a process that would require both the House and Senate to debate and agree on language and the Governor to sign the bill into law.

We are being told that this Board will protect farms from animal rights groups, but what will protect the farmers from the Board, a panel of bureaucrats without accountability?

After reading the proposed resolution, we have several questions regarding Issue 2.

  • Why did the Ohio Farmers Union decide to oppose issue 2 in their August meeting?
  • Will we need a license or permit to own and raise livestock in this state?
  • Will special training and classes be required to obtain the right to raise livestock?
  • Will someone come to our farm to ensure that we follow the guidelines set forth by this Board, without search warrants or probable cause?
  • Will we be criminals, and subject to fines/prison if we disagree with the standards set by the Board and fail to comply?
  • Will these board members be paid? If so, who decides their salary?
  • How will the actions of this board be funded: by taxpayers or farmers?
  • How will Board decrees be enforced?
  • How long will the terms of appointees be? Indefinite or limited?
  • Why is this Board given “excusive authority to establish standards governing the care and well-being of livestock and poultry in this state” instead of the farmer?
  • Why are the members of this Board appointed (10 by Governor) and not voted into their position by the farmers themselves?
  • What appeal process will be available for those who wish to challenge the standards set by this Board? Will that appeal require a fee also?
  • Why only three “family farmers”? Won’t they be outnumbered by the other 10 non-farmers?
  • What effect will the approval of the Board have on organic and all natural farms?
  • Why is Farm Bureau using fear to provoke the acceptance of this amendment?
  • Will this Board view livestock as the private property of the farmers with Divine right to govern them as their own conscience directs? Or is livestock the property of the State?
  • Will this Board establish rules regarding vaccines?
  • Will we be required to keep updated farm records and submit them annually to this board?
  • Will the Amish of Ohio be exempt from any rules that contradict their religious beliefs?
  • Why would we want to establish a government entity to “protect us (farmers) from special interest groups” when the very way these groups achieve their goals is to lobby and control government entities?
  • Doesn’t this proposed amendment contradict the original FFA Creed. paragraph three, which states:

I believe in leadership from ourselves and respect from others. I believe in my own ability to work efficiently and think clearly, with such knowledge and skill as I can secure, and in the ability of organized farmers to serve our own and public interest in marketing the product of our toil. I believe we can safeguard those rights against practices and policies that are unfair.

  • If we have sworn the oath of the Pledge Of Allegiance, which professes “Liberty and Justice for all,” since this amendment takes the liberty to raise livestock from an individual farmer and gives it to the direct control of the State, would we be committing hypocrisy according to our spoken oath?
  • Are horses included under the authority of this Board? If not, shouldn’t they be protected from animal rights groups too and be subject to the standards decreed by this Board?
  • Is forfeiture of liberty the only way to protect livestock farms in Ohio from animal rights groups? Are there other options available?

In conclusion, we support the opposition to Issue 2 as expressed by the Ohio Farmers Union, The League of Women Voters, Ohio Food and Water Watch, The Ohio Environmental Stewardship Alliance, and all the major newspapers in Ohio.

Incidentally, as Geauga County Farm Bureau members we participated in more than one function at your farm. At one of these meetings in early 2008, in the presence of many Geauga County Farm Bureau members and Larry Gearhardt, you stated the objective of increasing your herd size significantly, up to 1000 head.

Since you have chosen to be a proponent of Ohio Issue 2, which requires a constitutional change, it seems that you have the responsibility to make certain that your own words about “sustainability” and other pertinent issues are accurate, consistent, and truthful. Issue 2 remains a threat to the individual liberties of the voters and to non-CAFO farmers in this state.

Diane and Tom Jones