Activists have proposed a constitutional amendment in the state of Ohio that would effectively overturn the November 2009 voter initiative establishing the state’s Livestock Care Standards Board as the final authority in establishing farm animal welfare regulations. The voter initiative passed by a two-to-one margin in November 2009.

The proposed amendment is similar to California’s Proposition 2. It would put restraints on the housing of calves, poultry and hogs and place certain restrictions on on-farm slaughter of livestock. Proponents of the constitutional amendment must collect 400,000 signatures to place the proposal on the November 2010 ballot.

The petition move was widely anticipated following the preemptive measure adopted by voters in 2009 establishing the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board. Petition supporters include local humane societies, the Center for Science in the Public Interest and United Farm Workers. The Ohio Veterinary Medical Association is expected to respond negatively to the petition.

Recently the American Veterinary Medical Association announced a policy position against using ballot initiatives to reform animal welfare. The association favors expert bodies to set animal welfare standards, stating, “veterinarians and animal welfare scientists, who have been professionally trained to responsibly advance animal care, should thereby be given substantial opportunity for representation on welfare boards.”

The State Agriculture and Rural Leaders Organization encourages development of welfare standards through legislative committee processes with expert input. This organization considers that “ballot initiatives are poorly designed for addressing complex issues” such as establishing standards for welfare.