The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has reached an agreement with Ohio Governor Ted Strickland and state agricultural leaders to drop a proposed animal rights ballot initiative.
At a hastily called press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Governor Stickland stood with Ohio Farm Bureau executive vice president Jack Fisher and HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle to make the announcement, which amounts to a truce between the aggressive animal rights group and Ohio’s animal agriculture industry. “This agreement represents a joint effort to find common ground,” said Strickland. “What we have concluded is something that is good for Ohio agriculture and will be good for animal welfare in our state.”
Under the agreement, HSUS will work with the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board and has received some concessions from the animal agriculture industry in exchange. Those concessions include a ban on veal crates by 2017; a ban on new gestation crates in the state after Dec. 31, 2010 and a 15 year phase out period; and a moratorium on permits for new battery cage confinement facilities for laying hens. The agreement also includes restrictions on cockfighting, “puppy mills” and exotic animals.
Fisher thanked the rest of the Ohio agriculture industry for working together on the compromise. “We came to the table to represent all of us in Ohio the best way that we could,” Fisher said. “We think it recognizes the wishes of our voters last fall in that the Ohio Livestock Care Standards board will be able to fulfill its mission. We also think it brings some certainty to the business climate for our Ohio farmers. Not in total – but this is the best we could do for all of us.”
Pacelle had the longest opening statement for the press conference, in which he thanked all the commodity groups for “good faith discussions.” “We want animal welfare, but we live in the real world,” Pacelle said, noting that they had the 500,000 signatures needed to put the initiative on the ballot this fall. Interestingly, only HSUS had a press release on its website about the announcement by the time the press conference was underway. Even after it was over, neither the governor’s office nor Ohio Farm Bureau had yet posted a release.
Listen to or download opening statements from all here: Ohio HSUS Agreement Press Conference