During the last week of June, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland brokered a deal between animal welfare groups and farm interests to halt the promotion of a citizen-backed ballot initiative intended to prevent some of the cruelest practices common in factory farming. As in most of the U.S., veal calves in Ohio are currently allowed to be chained in small crates without enough room to turn around; sows are confined in gestation crates only a few inches wider and longer than the sows themselves; and egg-laying hens are housed in tiny “battery” cages with less space, per bird, than the size of an 8.5”x11” sheet of paper.
During the recent negotiations, Ohioans for Humane Farms and the Humane Society of the United States agreed not to submit the gathered signatures for a ballot initiative in return for adoption of the following measures:
- A ban on veal crates by the year 2017.
- A ban on new gestation crates after December 31, 2010, and existing crates must be phased out over the next 15 years.
- A moratorium on permits for new battery cage confinement facilities for laying hens (this does not affect current facilities).
- A ban on the transport of downer cows for slaughter. A downer cow is one who has become too sick or injured to walk unassisted.
- Adoption of humane euthanasia methods for sick or injured farm animals.
- Enactment of legislation establishing felony penalties for cockfighting.
- Enactment of legislation to regulate puppy mills.
- Enactment of a prohibition on the sale and/or possession of wild and dangerous animals.
The ASPCA encouraged our Ohio members to sign hard-copy petitions to place the initiative on the state ballot in November. While this compromise agreement did not accomplish everything we hoped for, it is a good first step toward ending confinement practices, and we welcome these broad, sweeping accomplishments for the animals.
We wish to thank all of our Ohio supporters who took the time to sign petitions—and special thanks are due to those who worked so hard to gather signatures. Your efforts were instrumental in bringing the Ohio Farm Bureau to the table. Please be mindful that all of the signatures gathered during the petition drive remain valid and can be submitted in coming years if the agreement is not fully honored.
We hope that efforts such as the one in Ohio will continue to spread across the country, and that soon the cruel practices of factory farms will be a thing of the past. To help the ASPCA and your fellow animal advocates achieve humane victories, sign up to receive legislative email alerts from the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade.