Ohio voters will decide next week whether to create a board overseeing livestock care in a move that could give farmers in rural America a blueprint for battling animal rights groups intent on outlawing cramped cages for chickens and hogs, writes John Seewer for the Associated Press.

Agriculture industry leaders pushed the issue onto the state ballot, hoping to thwart an attempt by animal rights activists who were threatening to force farmers to change how they house livestock.

Voters in California, Florida and Arizona already have approved measures that require more space for confined farm animals. Lawmakers in Colorado, Maine, Michigan and Oregon have adopted similar rules.

Supporters of the changes say animals raised for food deserve humane treatment. Opponents argue the regulations will force farmers to make costly changes that could put them out of business and drive up the price of eggs, chicken, pork and beef.

That's why Ohio's agriculture leaders decided to take a shot at creating a livestock board that would include farmers and animal care experts.

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