A recent vote on the use of veal crates in Ohio goes back on a deal that was struck last June between animal welfare activists and farm organizations to keep livestock welfare standards from going to the ballot.
Ohioans and animal welfare organizations had been working to increase protection for farm animals and implement stronger anti-cruelty laws in the state by collecting more than 500,000 signatures to bring animal welfare issues to the table for voters last November.
Before the issues went farther, an agreement was reached between Ohioans for Humane Farms, farm groups and Governor Ted Strickland to make improvements on a number of issues ranging from intensive factory farming practices to puppy mills.
Among the changes agreed on was a ban on veal crates by 2017, which have already been banned in five states.
Veal crates are designed to prevent muscle development of calves by restricting their ability to move because of the demand for the texture and color of their tender meat.
Hopefully, most people, including those who eat meat, can all agree that intensively confining a living being for most of its life in such a way that restricts their ability to move, stretch, lay down or even scratch an itch, never mind socialize, engage in normal behavior or breath fresh air, is inherently inhumane.
What many consumers don’t realize is that these calves are a direct byproduct of the dairy industry who are removed from their mothers from within hours to a day or two of being born so her milk can be sold for human consumption. Those with the pure bad luck of being born male will be shipped off to veal farms, while females will be raised to replace their mothers as milk producers.
The American Veterinary Medical Association opposes chaining calves by the neck in crates and has adopted the policy that “individual housing must allow the calf to turn around comfortably and to assume normal postures.”
Unfortunately, after objections from veal producers the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board voted 6-5 to allow the continued confinement of veal calves in crates so small they’ll spend their brief lives with the inability to even turn around, totally reversing the original agreement.
“A phase-out of veal crates is a core element of the eight-point animal welfare agreement, and if the Livestock Board guts that provision by allowing calves to be immobilized for more than half of their lives, we will have little choice but to renew the effort for a ballot initiative that we had hoped had been averted through a balanced and forward-looking agreement,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society.
The petition signatures gathered remain valid and can still be brought to the ballot if necessary, but the decision can still be reversed and may be affected by a comment period that will be open through April.
Please take a minute to submit a comment to the Ohio Department of Agriculture asking them to reinstate the previously agreed on provision that would allow all calves to at least turn around regardless of how old they are.