Your future hamburgers are breathing easier these days.
Last year, the Humane Society of the United States gathered more than half a million signatures to put three animal-friendly issues on the Ohio ballot.
To avoid a contentious and costly campaign, then-Governor Ted Strickland brokered an agreement between the Humane Society and its opponents at the Ohio Farm Bureau. The deal called for phasing out confinement cages, cracking down on inhumane euthanasia, and regulation of sick animals entering the food supply.
But friends of cows grew fearful all over again last month when the Ohio State Livestock Care Standards Board, the group charged with pushing through the regulations, narrowly voted to continue confining veal calves.
The Ohio Humane Society led a public outcry that included nearly 5,000 responses, prompting the livestock board to reverse itself by an 11-0 vote. Now the original terms of the agreement have been reinstated.
“We were shocked when the board took the action it did [in March], and we fired back pretty hard,” says Karen Minton, executive director of the Ohio Humane Society. “I don’t think they expected the strong reaction they got from us.” Last year’s signatures would still work for this year’s ballot, she adds, which proved a useful deterrent to opponents.
“This network is very active, and the people who get into it are very committed,” says Parker Bosley, a Cleveland chef and healthy food advocate. “It’s like a religion in a way.”
Bosley senses a shift away from the dominance of Big Agriculture in Ohio.
“Think of even five years ago, the clout industrial agriculture had in Ohio,” he says. “The show is over for these guys. They know they are being watched and written about and talked about. They’re saying, ‘Uh oh, we better give in a little bit or we’ll lose it all.’