The HSUS has worked out a compromise with the Ohio Farm Bureau, heading off what would have been a contentious election battle.
Both sides are claiming victory, spinning the compromise as more than it is.
An e-mail from Gene Baur, the president of Farm Sanctuary, which worked with The HSUS on this campaign, said "the animals won!" and that "agribusiness in Ohio is committed to change for farm animals." While Ohio animal ag did make concessions, they don't care any more about the animals today than they did yesterday.
The compromise includes the following:
While some of these measures sound good -- Baur's been fighting for federal downed-cow legislation for decades -- I don't know how the bans will be put into place. I don't know if Ohio's new Livestock Care Standards Board can implement bans themselves or if the state legislature has to vote on them.
- A ban on veal crates, to be phased out within six years.
- A ban on new gestation crates in the state after December 31, 2010. Existing facilities are grandfathered, but must cease use of these crates within 15 years.
- A permanent moratorium on permits for new battery cage facilities in place immediately.
- A ban on the transport of downed cows and calves for slaughter.
- A ban on strangulation and other forms of on farm killing that are not included in euthanasia standards as outlined by the American Veterinary Medical Association.
- Enactment of legislation establishing felony-level penalties for cock fighters.
- Enactment of legislation cracking down on puppy mills.
- Enactment of a ban on the acquisition of dangerous exotic animals as pets, such as primates, bears, lions, tigers, large constricting and venomous snakes, crocodiles, and alligators.
The legislature will have to vote on at least the last three items, and the compromise is not legally binding.
Animal ag's response
If Farm Sanctuary and The HSUS are guilty of spinning the compromise, then animal agribusiness (in the form of good ol' David Martosko) is dizzying itself.
Martosko's press release accuses The HSUS of "slink[ing] away in [a] face-saving move."
[HSUS's Wayne] Pacelle secured only a few weak promises from Governor Strickland concerning animal-welfare measures that had nothing to do with the reasons the group gave for coming into the Buckeye State.But that's not completely true. Ohio initiative's Web site detailed the issues The HSUS wanted to see changed.
Extreme confinement in tiny cages for months on end: Tens of thousands of veal calves, 170,000 breeding pigs, and approximately 27 million egg-laying hens in Ohio are confined in cages and crates so restrictive the animals can barely move an inch for virtually their whole lives. Many don't even have enough room to stretch their limbs or turn around.But, Martosko notes, the moratorium on battery cages could be lifted at any time, and the veal industry had already announced a phaseout of veal crates by 2017.
Allowing "downer cows" to enter the human food chain: Allowing sick and injured animals into the food supply threatens public health and food safety. Cows too sick or injured to stand or walk on their own to slaughter should be humanely euthanized, not inhumanely dragged or pushed while being shocked and beaten onto the kill floor to be used for human consumption.
Inhumane methods of euthanasia for sick and injured animals: In Ohio, a factory farmer was videotaped killing sick pigs by hanging them execution-style from a tractor, leaving them to writhe in the air for minutes on end. He was acquitted of cruelty for the hangings, a verdict Ohio's agribusiness community hailed as a "huge victory," because Ohio has no law specifically requiring humane farm animal euthanasia method.
Martosko quotes himself in his press release.
"HSUS's press release listing its animal agriculture 'gains' is laughable. It's just a restatement of current law and an acknowledgement of the way livestock practices are already evolving."These practices are evolving because of The HSUS. Animal ag doesn't want them. That's why they've spent millions trying to defeat ballot initiatives like the one Ohioans would have voted on in November.
Today was the final day The HSUS could turn in its 500,000 signatures to get the measure on the ballot. But if animal ag doesn't live up to its end of the deal, The HSUS can try again during another election. Although are we to wait 15 years to see if gestation crates are gone?