In a surprising move today, Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) CEO Wayne Pacelle appeared with Ohio Governor Ted Strickland and a vice president of the Ohio Farm Bureau to announce that his organization will not pursue its planned ballot initiative in November. The measure, aimed at Ohio’s livestock farmers, would have wrested control of livestock handling standards away from the Livestock Care Standards Board, which Ohio voters approved by a wide margin during the 2009 election.

According to the announcement made at today’s 4:30pm press conference, HSUS has agreed to abandon its effort to control how Ohio’s farmers raise animals. In exchange, 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; moreover, these concessions consist only of recommendations which will depend on the uncertain approval of Ohio’s legislature.

David Martosko, the editor of www.HumaneWatch.org, is available to comment on today’s press conference. HumaneWatch is the nation’s only sustained watchdog effort that follows HSUS’s activities on a day-to-day basis.

Martosko said: “This is an embarrassing defeat for the animal rights movement. HSUS came swaggering into Ohio promising to crush the farmers. In the end, HSUS got practically none of what it was demanding from livestock farmers. 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. HSUS spent an enormous amount of its donors’ money to gain a small amount of leverage that could easily evaporate if Governor Strickland isn’t re-elected in November.”