Industry proposes funding panel that would rely on science
By MITCH LIES
SALEM -- The Oregon dairy industry wants to create an animal welfare board for lawmakers to consult when addressing animal-care issues.
The idea behind House Bill 3006, dairy lobbyist Roger Beyer said, is to bring science into the debate over animal care.
"Animal issues get driven by emotion, by 30-second sound bites, by pictures that may or may not accurately reflect what is going on in an industry," Beyer said.
"We thought this would be a chance to bring in an unbiased, peer-reviewed scientific panel," Beyer said.
Under HB3006, the dairy animal welfare board would be chaired by the state veterinarian and include five members appointed by the director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture.
Board members must be "well-informed on scientific or veterinary principles regarding dairy animal care," according to the bill.
"Sometimes we may get answers that we don't want," Beyer said, "but if it's based on science, we can live with that."
Beyer said the dairy industry invited other livestock industries to participate in the bill, but none accepted.
Under an amendment proposed by the industry, the dairy industry would compensate the ODA for board expenses.
Beyer said the board is patterned after the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board, which was created in November 2009. The board, developed under an Ohio Farm Bureau initiative, is charged with establishing statewide standards governing the care and well-being of livestock.
The Ohio Farm Bureau proposed the board in part to fend off attempts by the Humane Society of the U.S. to regulate animal agriculture in Ohio.
Oregon has been targeted by the society, too. In 2007, Oregon became the first state to pass legislation limiting the use of gestation crates for pregnant pigs. Senate Bill 694, which was backed by the Humane Society of the U.S., takes effect Jan. 1, 2012.
HB3006 has been assigned to the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.