Issue 2 would create an amendment to the state constitution, instituting a board with the legal authority to set and enforce the care of livestock throughout the state. Vote no. It's apparently a move to preempt national animal-rights groups from demanding changes in farm facilities that would cost big ag money and put smaller farmers out of business. A constitutional amendment is not the way to do this, especially given the vague wording on who would be on this board and how they would get there. My thoughts are these:

Issue 2

This is a really tricky issue with dangers on both sides. I'm truly skeptical of everything big agricultural interests do. If Issue 2 passes, this new board could basically say that the hundreds of CAFO's in Ohio are just dandy, carry on. They could also tell small farmers that it is illegal to pasture raise your animals due to safety concerns. Also, the ads urging voters to vote yes are downright creepy in their opacity. Without saying at all what the issue is about, they present bucolic images of small farm families with the message that a yes vote is a vote for safe wholesome food. As if anyone would vote for unsafe, nasty food. The deceptive, arguably dishonest, nature of the ad is, in itself, enough for me to distrust the interests pushing this issue.

On the other hand if the board were truly representative of all the voices out there, both big and little ag, as well as farmers concerned about good animal husbandry and animal care experts, it could be a good thing. I spoke yesterday with a fierce small-farm advocate who's referred to at the capitol by big ag as "the raw milk lady" who is for Issue 2. Acknowledging that the issue presented two difficult extremes, she seems to want to fight for what's right within the system, and she's also concerned that outside interests such as animal-rights groups may make good food too expensive for low-income families, which is and should be a primary goal—making good, humanely raised food available to everyone.

Such food must be founded on a good economic model if it is to succeed. While I don't want animal rights groups forcing any Ohio farmers out of business (business that will simply go elsewhere and do the same thing), I don't believe a constitutional amendment setting up some vaguely-worded board to create legal standards for animal husbandry in Ohio is a step forward; and it may well be a bad step backward.  Read the Tom Suddes opinion piece below for a more black-and-white, Big-Ag-is-evil take on the subject. And keep paying attention to where your food comes from.

 Download Issue 2 itself.

 Download Issue2factsheet on the legal issues.

Here is a link to Thomas Suddes strongly worded opinion in The Plain Dealer.

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11 Wonderful responses to “Ohio: Vote No on Issue 2”

  • Beanie

    Michael, thank you for writing this.

    I did a similar post a couple weeks ago. This is SO critically important, both to having a truly SAFE local food supply, and also to preserving the integrity of our state constitution. Never, never amend a constitution to ensure a small number of for-profit gains!

  • ntsc

    [Expanded from a Facebook comment]

    One would assume that the state legislature already has the authority to a): pass such laws or b): create a board to pass regulations. Mandated boards outside the purview of the legislature are generally not a good thing.

    New York is saddled with the NY-NJ Port Authority.

    They built the WTC, which was explicitly not built up to NYC code because they didn’t have to.

  • kristin

    Three words: Buckeye Egg Farm. Anyone who lives or has lived down near Columbus knows that they are the poster child for big farm and bad business. I never planned on voting for this issue. It is just bad news.

  • Paul Kobulnicky

    I’m with you Michael. The attempt to pluck heartstrings makes me deeply suspicious. The ads are designed to generate emotionally reactive based rather than analytical votes. Factor in the pervasive negative impact of industry on our regulatory processes and you have a recipe for disaster.

    BTW, our small local meat supplier in Oberlin (Hickory Acres) is also urging a “NO” vote.

  • Allen Ross

    It seems that more government intrusion is always couched in deception carried by platitudinous words and ads. Thanks for your post Michael. I was going to vote yes until I read it.

  • Hema

    Thanks for bringing this issue to the forefront. I’m worried, however, that the bucolic images presented by Issue 2, without any competing ads from the opposition that demonstrate the realities of Issues 2, means that Issue 2 will pass easily. I can only hope that the end result is a board that meaningfully represents small-ag business, too (though I won’t hold my breath)!

  • Curt

    I’ve gone back and forth on this, as I figure I’m on the opposite side of HSUS on just about anything.

    But what bothers me about this is that 1. it’s a constitutional amendment where I don’t know that one is needed, and 2. the definitions of the board make-up is way too vague.

  • Andrew Martin

    Thanks for bringing some attention to this-I actually got a automated phone call with both Govenor Strickland and Sen. Voinavich urging a yes vote on two. I think that speaks pretty clearly to the power of the agribusiness lobby in the state of Ohio.

  • Tags

    I can just barely believe the brazen half-cocked audacity of the agribehemoths trying to slip this in during an OFF-YEAR ELECTION when so few people vote.

    This is why the status quo is so badly rigged.

  • DebbieQ

    I went back and forth on this issue. I don’t want animal rights activists dictating anything but I really didn’t think that an amendment to the Ohio constitution was the way to go with this. And then when I read the vagueness of the wording it was a “No” vote for me, which I cast at 7:30 this morning.

  • Carey

    Michael,

    A bit off topic, but I have recently made the decision of only eating ethical meat. This has brought me much Piece of mind at home, but is a nightmare when I think of dining out. I live in Chicago. Do you know if there is any way of finding out if there are resaurants who share my beliefs so that I could patronize them? Any advice would be deeply appreciated!