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Debate Over Issue 2 Heats Up

In recent weeks, arguments over Issue 2 have heated up. Issue 2 would change the Ohio constitution to form a board to set living standards for livestock. Today supporters and opponents of the issue met for a debate in downtown Columbus.

The creation of a 13-member board is supported by large farming interests including the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation. They worry that if such a board is not established, animal rights groups - including the Humane Society of the United States - would force passage of regulations mandating more restrictive animal confinement standards. Those kinds of standards have already been implemented in a handful of other states. At a Columbus Metropolitan Club forum, farmer Brian Watkins defended Issue 2.

"The leading groups whose basic agenda is animal rights and animal advocacy came to Ohio and said 'We're going to do this in Ohio, too. We're going to try to fundamentally change the way you do what you do.' Issue 2 is our response."

But some small farmers believe an Ohio Livestock Standards Board would amount to unwanted government intrusion. Farmer Joe Logan represented the Ohio Farmers Union at the debate.

"Why are we changing our constitution? There are a lot of reasonable people that believe that the constitution gives a broad philosophical base for our architecture of laws and rules and we should keep it safe for issues that deal broadly with the rights of the people of the state of Ohio and not for issues that narrow-in on narrow interests of a segment."

Logan says the issue should be dealt with by the legislature, not by amending the constitution.