As one person put it, she heard no compelling reason to vote against a state constitutional amendment to establish a livestock care standards board.
Kristen Taylor of Chester Township was among about 80 people who attended Thursday's panel discussion at the University of Akron Wayne College, an event organized by the League of Women Voters of Wayne County.
The six-member panel explained and debated the ballot initiative, which is known as Issue 2. On the panel were state Sen. Bob Gibbs, who introduced the measure in Columbus; Keith Stimpert of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation; Dianne Shoemaker, a dairy specialist with Ohio State University Extension Office; Kathie Gray, a board member for the Wayne County Humane Society; Dr. Brad Garrison, a local veterinarian who is chairman of the food animal committee of the Ohio Veterinarian Medical Association; and Joe Logan, representing the Ohio Environmental Stewardship Alliance.
Gibbs characterized the effort as a proactive approach by the industry that create a board of experts who would follow science-based research to determine what the standards of care for livestock should be. He viewed the issue as one of economics (with 20 percent of Ohioans employed in food processing, whether from producer to retail), consumer choice and food safety. If standards are expensive to implement, it could lead to higher levels of food importation where there is no control on how it is raised.
Stimpert said the creation of the board goes to preserving family farms in Ohio. He has also seen an increase in consumers wanting to know how and where their food is produced. A board establishing care standards based on science will help to assure consumers the livestock was produced safely and raised humanely.
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