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Published: Wednesday, 6/12/2002

Farm Bureau kicked off committee on megafarms


COLUMBUS - The Ohio Farm Bureau, whose lobbying helped put Ohio's largest livestock and poultry farms under supervision of the Department of Agriculture, got kicked off the committee yesterday that advises the agency on the megafarms.

The department said representatives of the Farm Bureau and the Ohio Farmers Union, which also was removed from the committee, did not qualify under the law for "public" positions on the 16-member panel. The law prohibits farm owners, operators, and others with an interest in megafarms from serving in the four public positions.

The two organizations include some megafarms as members, department spokeswoman Deborah Abbott said.

The Concentrated Animal Feeding Facility Advisory Committee includes representatives of the livestock industry, state and local public officials, water-quality specialists, environmental activists, and the four public members.

Megafarms are defined as those with more than 1,000 "animal units." Each unit is the equivalent of 1 cow, 2.5 hogs, or 100 hens.

The department received a letter dated Feb. 9 from three environmental groups complaining about the inclusion of the two farm groups and a representative of the Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, as public members of the committee.

"As it stands, the livestock industry has five slots on the current committee. Adding additional livestock groups disguised as the public further tips the scales in favor of agribusiness," the letter said.

The Farmers Union voluntarily left the committee, but Agriculture Director Fred Dailey removed the Farm Bureau after the group objected to the request for its removal. The representative of the soil and water districts serves that group without a salary and thus didn't have conflicting interests, Ms. Abbott said.

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