Animal welfare board debated

Oregon state capitol dome in Salem

HSUS official says proposal approves 'institutionalized animal abuse'

By MITCH LIES

Capital Press

SALEM -- Oregon dairy farmers believe their proposal to create a dairy animal welfare board would help move animal-care debates beyond emotion and rhetoric and into science.

But it appears the industry first must overcome some rhetoric to get its bill passed.

House Bill 3006 "essentially appoints the fox to be guarding the hen house," Scott Beckstead, the Oregon director of the Humane Society of the United States, said in a March 4 hearing before the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.

"It is our position that it is creating a system of approving institutionalized animal abuse," Beckstead said. "Our experience with these livestock standards boards is they are implemented to ensure there are no standards."

HB3006 creates a dairy animal welfare board of up to five members appointed by the director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture and chaired by the state veterinarian. Board members must by "well-informed on scientific or veterinary principles regarding dairy animal care," according to the bill.

"Decisions on animal welfare should be based on science, not on emotion and 30-second sound bites," dairy lobbyist Roger Beyer said.

"The testimony from the Humane Society of the United States is exactly the kind of rhetoric we are hoping this bill will leave out of the debate on dairy animal welfare issues," Beyer said.

The board would be available "to offer nonbiased, scientific fact" if asked, Beyer said.

Under an amendment to the bill, board costs would by paid by whatever group or individual requests board input.

Lawmakers took no action on the bill.

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