The Van Wert County Courthouse

Monday, Dec. 5, 2022

Ag director signs livestock care standards

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

Ohio Agriculture Director Jim Zehringer (seated) signs the state's new livestock care standards into effect on Thursday while members of the board that helped craft the standards stands behind him. (Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent)

FORT RECOVERY – Ohio Agriculture Director Jim Zehringer returned to his roots to put the final stamp on historic statewide livestock regulations.

Zehringer, a 1970 graduate of Fort Recovery High School, selected his alma mater as the site for an official signing ceremony for Ohio’s new livestock care standards. The site was appropriate, since Fort Recovery High School has one of the best FFA programs in the state, while Mercer County could be the poster child for Ohio agriculture.

“You don’t have to look further than Mercer County to see how strong agriculture is,” Zehringer said. “We’re the No. 1 county in the state of Ohio in ag receipts … we also have the lowest unemployment in the state of Ohio.”

“This is pretty historic,” the Ohio agriculture director said, noting that the livestock standards amendment is only the 18th adopted for the state constitution since Ohio entered the union in 1803.

Prior to the signing, Zehringer took some good-natured ribbing from Fort Recovery High School Principal Dave Warvel, who noted that he had done research on the ag director’s school transcript prior to Thursday’s event.

Warvel got some chuckles from the audience when he noted that Zehringer did graduate from the school … “barely” … and then went for bigger laughs when he asserted the ag director still had two unserved detentions from his senior year 40 years ago.

Zehringer enjoyed the ribbing, but quickly returned the event to a more serious note when he got up to speak.

“Today marks a pivotal point in Ohio agriculture, one that will improve our production practices, create consumer confidence in our products and strengthen the foundations of our industry, and I truly believe that,” Zehringer said. “We are really setting the pace today with what we’re doing here in Fort Recovery.”

The state ag director also spoke about the support Ohio voters gave the ballot issue that provided the mandate for the livestock standards, noting that 87 of Ohio’s 88 counties voted in favor of the issue.

“I just don’t think that’s ever happened before,” he added.

Zehringer also complimented the board that was selected to come up with the new livestock care standards, noting that its members “took it very seriously.”

A summary of the new standards includes the following:

Care and Handling

  • Animals must receive a sufficient quantity and quality of feed and water on a regular basis.
  • Livestock handling equipment and devices must be designed and maintained in order to minimize bruising and injury and must be used humanely.
  • When restraint is required, it must be minimal in degree and duration, and it must minimize the potential for injury.
  • Livestock cannot maliciously or recklessly be thrown, dropped or dragged.

Housing and Facilities

  • Livestock housing and handling facilities must be designed minimize bruising and injury.
  • Livestock housing should provide reasonable protection from adverse weather conditions and from predators.
  • Generally, all animals must have room to lie down at the same time and easily stand back up.
  • All animals must have access to feed and water without excessive competition.
  • Adequate light must be available for inspection purposes.

Health

  • All practices and procedures pertaining to the health and medical treatment of livestock must be performed so as to minimize distress. All prescription and extra-label use medication must be obtained and administered with the advice and involvement of a licensed veterinarian. Livestock must also be monitored regularly for evidence of disease, injury and parasites, and if evidence of any of these ailments is found, corrective measure must be taken.

The new standards will be enforced by the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Divisions of Animal Health and Enforcement. ODA staff will investigate credible complaints to determine whether a violation has occurred.

Minor violations of the care standards, generally due to neglect or unintentional acts of substandard practices, are finable up to $500 for the first minor offense and up to $1,000 for each subsequent minor offense committed within 60 months of the previous minor violation.

Major violations will include reckless or intentional acts that result in the unjustified infliction of pain. Major violations can be any action that:

  • Places an animal’s life in imminent peril
  • Caused protracted disfigurement
  • Cause protracted impairment of health
  • Causes protracted loss or impairment of the function of a limb or bodily organ

Major violations include fines from $1,000 to $5,000 for the first major violation, and $5,000 to $10,000 for each subsequent major violation that is committed within 60 months of the previous major violation.

Violators will have a period of time to remedy a violation, but can be assessed subsequent violations for each day the violation remains uncured (click here for more information on the new livestock care standards).

POSTED: 09/30/11 at 5:41 am. FILED UNDER: News