By Kyle Sharp
On Aug. 1, the Ohio Department of Agriculture resubmitted the veal standards of care as developed and passed by the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board (OLCSB) to Ohio’s Congressional Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR). Unlike a previous hearing on July 11, when intense questioning by members of JCARR prompted ODA to withdraw the standards for later re-filing, this time the standards were approved.
No changes were made to the standards, and they were submitted exactly the same as at the July hearing, said Andy Ware, an ODA spokesman. However, a more thorough job of presenting testimony on behalf of the standards was done, including testimony by Ohio Farm Bureau Executive Vice President Jack Fisher, Gaylord Barkman with Buckeye Veal Services, veal farmer Jason Warner and Dr. Brad Garrison with the Ohio Veterinarian Medical Association.
Ohio Agriculture Director James Zehringer announced on Aug. 11 that animal care rules developed by the Livestock Care Standards Board will become effective on September 29, 2011.
The establishment of comprehensive livestock care standards is required by Ohio’s constitution following the passage of State Issue 2 in 2009. The statewide ballot initiative specified creation of the 13-member Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board with the responsibility of obtaining industry and public input in developing livestock rules for alpacas, beef, dairy, goats, horses, llamas, pork, poultry, sheep and veal.
“The members of the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board and representatives from Ohio’s agricultural community devoted the past 18 months to developing and vetting the most comprehensive livestock care standards in the nation,” Zehringer said. “States from around the country are now looking towards Ohio’s leadership in developing these new standards.”
Ohio’s livestock care rules, which become effective with the Director of Agriculture’s signature, will be signed on September 29, 2011 at a special ceremony in Fort Recovery. That date concludes an extensive outreach effort by the department and Ohio’s farm organizations to inform Ohioans raising or caring for livestock about the new rules.
“We have already started the process of educating Ohio farmers about these new rules and it is our goal to spend the next several weeks in continuing to provide the state’s agricultural community information about them before they go into effect,” said Zehringer.
Bob Cochrell, a Wayne County veal farmer and member of the OLCSB veal subcommittee who presented comments and information against the proposed standards at the July hearing, also voiced his disapproval at the August JCARR gathering concerning the veal component of the standards.
The current OLCSB standards would allow veal calves to be in individual pens up to 10 weeks of age after Dec. 31, 2017, as long as they were not tethered and are able to turn around. After Dec. 31, 2017, young animals must be moved to group pens by 10 weeks of age. Until the Dec. 31, 2017, date, calves can continue to be raised in individual stalls throughout their production period and either tethered or non-tethered.
Cochrell fears these standards will drive most of Ohio’s independent veal producers out of business because of the expense to remodel veal facilities without a market willing to pay higher prices for calves raised in group pens. Thirty-two other Ohio veal producers, representing more than half of the veal production in Ohio, signed an affidavit earlier this year that said if the veal standards are passed as they are, they do not anticipate continuing to raise veal after Dec. 31, 2017.
There also is no scientific data that shows raising calves in group pens is healthier or more efficient for the calves, Cochrell said. He fears the standards were passed to satisfy the agreement reached last year between the Humane Society of the United States and Ohio agricultural leaders, and were not based on objective, measurable criteria.
So for the next six years, Cochrell anticipates raising veal calves, but likely not after that.
“I have gained a new appreciation for the day-to-day privilege of doing what I love, caring for my calves,” he said. “I now give the boys, my calves, a few extra pats on the head when I am in the barn. It is the recognition that my time is limited to do that, unless circumstances change.”
As part of its education effort the department has developed printable guides to help producers understand the new standards. A series of information sessions hosted by Dr. David Glauer, former state veterinarian, has also been scheduled around the state.
The meetings are open to the public and will feature a presentation on the new livestock care standards as well as an opportunity to ask ODA staff questions about the new rules.
The dates and locations of those two-hour meetings include:
Wednesday, August 24 6:00 – 8:00 Hillsboro Southern State Community College (Auditorium), 100 Hobart Drive
Wednesday, August 31 6:00 – 8:00 Wooster Ohio State University OARDC (Shisler Center Ballroom), 1680 Madison Avenue
Wednesday, September 14 6:00 – 8:00 Lima Independence Elementary School, 615 Tremont Avenue
Tuesday, September 27 6:00 – 8:00 Zanesville Ohio University – Zanesville Campus (The Campus Center T430 & 431), 1425 Newark Road
Thursday, September 29 6:00 – 8:00 Fort Recovery American Legion, 2490 State Route 49 N.
Information about the livestock care standards, printable guides and the informational sessions can be found on the Department’s website at www.ohiolivestockcarestandards.gov. For more from Bob Cochrell on this issue, see his letter to the editor on page 8 of the Mid-August issue of Ohio’s Country Journal.