The animal-rights industry is pushing back against Issue 2, a ballot initiative in Ohio that would create a board to develop statewide standards for livestock care. But even if it passes, Issue 2 is not enough to guarantee that Ohio farmers will always have a say in how their own animals are cared for. The proposal’s out-of-state opponents like the DC-based Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) could easily propose another ballot initiative in 2010 that would supersede anything that Issue 2 decides, expanding regulations to force livestock farmers out of business as one way to push more people toward vegetarianism.
The strategy has precedent. The HSUS-backed passage of Proposition 2 in California last year required egg farmers to provide more room for egg-laying hens, despite the fact that mandating such a major overhaul of farming facilities would bankrupt small farms. What Proposition 2 really accomplished was forcing California farms to move out of state (and, in some cases, to Mexico) or risk going under.
HSUS has openly gloated about its success with Proposition 2 and clearly plans to continue strong-arming farmers. At the group’s “Taking Action for Animals” conference in July, HSUS “Outreach Director” Josh Balk spoke about their end goal:
“It is needed for farm animals that we get people to eat more vegetarian meals … We just have to reduce the number of animals that are raised for food. And we can do so by encouraging people to eat more vegetarian meals.”
Ohioan voters need to be aware of what HSUS’s real motives are. The group is stuffed to the gills with anti-hunting, anti-fishing, anti-rodeo, anti-circus, and anti-medical research activists who want nothing less than total animal liberation. And the group’s pursuit of an Ohio beachhead is very real. As HSUS president Wayne Pacelle said on the AgriTalk radio program in June:
Do you have plans now for Ohio, or for a ballot initiative in any other state in the near future?
“We’re committed to stopping the intensive confinement of animals: veal crates and gestation crates and battery cages. And we’ll continue to work on that on all fronts. And Ohio is still very much at top of mind for us, despite this effort.”
With California in the bag and Ohio in its sights, it’s only a matter of time before HSUS and other activist groups move to the next state (and the next after that). All in the service of making sure American livestock farming (and the affordable meat and milk most Americans count on) is a thing of the distant past.