Issue 2 strengthens economy, food supply

Published 10:10 am Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Four years ago I felt compelled, as a dairy farmer, to respond to an editorial complaining about high milk prices.

Now, after reading The Tribune’s opinion page, I feel that I need to respond to the “Our View” article concerning Issue 2.

First, it is unfair to submit an article of this nature less than 48 hours prior to the election, leaving little time for a response.

Email newsletter signup

I wondered who the “Our View” really was. When I subscribed to The Tribune a couple of years ago, my subscription check went to Niles, Mich.

Fortunately, Mr. Michael Caldwell informs us in an adjacent article that he alone made up the Editorial Board. Shouldn’t it be titled “Mike’s View” or something of that nature.

Mr. Caldwell expressed that he felt constitutional amendments should not be taken lightly because they are very rigid and cannot easily be modified. I agree, and I believe this is the intent.

Two high profile amendments to the United States Constitution were ratified to protect minorities. One abolished slavery. One gave women the right to vote.

I believe our Ohio Constitution can provide a similar protection to the minority that is made up of farmers. Our farmers and ranchers make up less than 2 percent of our population, yet provide nearly all of our food and feed countless millions around the world. They are extremely vulnerable because they have such a small voting voice.

Livestock and poultry producers make up a large portion of an agriculture industry in Ohio that leads our state’s economy. The creation of the Livestock Care Standards Board will ensure responsible care of our flocks and herds based on what is practical and acceptable for Ohioans.

We do not need outside interests with Madison Avenue ad campaigns and Hollywood pocket books determining how we care for our animals.

It is appropriate to be proactive against movements by organizations such as the Humane Society of the United States because they have openly targeted Ohio as their next battle ground and have publicly stated an agenda to eliminate animal agriculture.

The HSUS had an operating budget of $91.5 million in 2007 and assets exceeding $200 million while contributing less than 4 percent to organizations that operate dog and cat shelters. They fund no research on farm animal care despite the fact that they say it is a problem.

Personally, I feel livestock producers care for their animals very well. On my dairy, the cows rest before I rest and eat before I eat.

All animals are vaccinated for species specific diseases and protected against internal and external parasites as well as inclement weather. A nutritionist formulates theirs meals. They are my livelihood. It would be counterproductive to treat them inhumanely.

It is important to protect our farms in Ohio in order to insure a safe, abundant food supply.

Farmers are faced with enough adversity and do not have the time or the financial resources to stand alone against large activist organizations.

Mr. Caldwell, please take a moment to think about where the food you eat actually comes from. What would happen if we had a shortage of food?

Experts believe the world will need to double food production by the year 2050 with only a small increase in land available to produce it. In 1973, the year I was born, there were approximately 650,000 dairy farms.

Today, there are 57,000 with an average of 10 farms leaving the industry every day.

There is an old saying, “Remember who butters your bread”… but I assume you like your bread plain.

Bill Pratt is a family dairy farmer from Chesapeake.