Farm Sanctuary speaks out on latest news out of Ohio on veal calf confinement

Photo - Farm Sanctuary

I received a press release late last night from the Farm Sanctuary, in response to the recent 6-5 vote by the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board to permit the inhumane confinement of veal calves in crates.

These crates, as you can see in the photo, are tiny and do not even allow the calves room to turn around.

The Farm Sanctuary, a leading farm animal protection group, contends this is a “violation of an agreement reached last June between humane groups and agribusiness.”

Gene Baur, president and co-founder of Farm Sanctuary, issued a statement concerning the vote.

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Monday’s vote by the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board (OLCSB) to allow veal calves to be confined in crates so tightly that they can’t even turn around for most of their lives violates the widely publicized agreement that was reached last June between agribusiness interests, including the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, and the humane community to avoid a ballot initiative that would ban the inhumane confinement of animals in veal crates, gestation crates and battery cages across the state. By endorsing veal crates, the OLCSB has demonstrated an interest in upholding the status quo at the expense of improving animal welfare. We urge the OLCSB to reverse its vote and to act in accordance with June’s compromise agreement. Otherwise, the humane community will have no option other than to move forward with the initiative.

Like all animals, farm animals have feelings and they deserve to be treated with respect and compassion. But unfortunately, they are subjected to inhumane conditions and experience intolerable suffering on today’s factory farms. Calves in veal crates are so severely confined that they cannot walk, turn around or engage in basic natural behaviors, and they experience both physical and psychological disorders. Citizens are appalled to learn about factory farming cruelty, and when they’ve had the opportunity to vote on initiatives that require animals to have at least enough space to turn around, they have overwhelmingly supported these measures. We expect the same result in Ohio.

Laws codify societal values and prohibit behaviors that are outside the bounds of acceptable conduct in our society. But for decades, agribusiness has wielded undue influence over the legislative process, and they have acted to codify cruelty. Amazingly, farm animals are excluded from the Federal Animal Welfare Act and from many state anti-cruelty laws.

With growing awareness and opposition to factory farming, laws are finally changing to more accurately reflect societal values. Direct democracy through citizens’ initiatives has played an important role in bringing about critical humane reforms. Concerned about a pending initiative, the OLCSB was created by agribusiness to prevent a popular vote in Ohio, and that may still be possible, but only if the board acts appropriately and isn’t just a compliant mouthpiece for the factory farming industry.

The OLCSB cannot both defend veal crates and also claim to have an interest in promoting animal welfare. Hopefully, the OLCSB will reverse its ill-conceived endorsement of veal crates, but if it doesn’t, Ohio’s humane minded citizens will.

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Confining calves in this manner clearly constitutes animal cruelty; no doubt about it. This form of factory farming must come to an end. We are a civilized society and need to rally behind Farm Sanctuary in its efforts to end barbaric practices such as this.

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