It’s been an 18-month-long process, but the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board is set to move forward with its final on-farm animal housing requirements. Sept. 29, will mark the date that the comprehensive rules will go into effect.

The new standards will address such things as confinement housing options, cage and pen sizes, euthanasia and other animal handling and treatment issues.

James Zehringer, Ohio’s Director of Agriculture, announced the new rules late last week, which he calls  “the most comprehensive livestock care standards in the nation.”

The entire process began after Ohio voters passed a November 2009 ballot initiative, presented by the Humane Society of the United States. Called “Issue 2,” it was a constitutional amendment requiring the state to establish housing and care standards for beef, dairy, swine, sheep, poultry, veal, goats, horses, llamas and alpacas.

In the summer of 2010, Ohio’s then governor, Ted Strickland, negotiated a further compromise with HSUS, Ohioans for Humane Farms and Ohio agriculture leaders to adopt key provisions, including a 13-member Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board.

The board was charged with collecting industry and public input to develop the respective species’ farm-animal care rules. To do so, it held more than 20 meetings, 55 sub-committee meetings, seven public listening sessions and committed two days touring a variety of Ohio farms.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture, under the state veterinarian’s direction, will be responsible for implementing the standards. It will hold five public meetings between now and Sept. 29 to present and discuss the details of the final standards. Farmers, veterinarians and livestock  transporters are encouraged to attend. The two-hour sessions are scheduled as follows:

* Aug. 24 in Hillsboro

* Aug. 31 in Wooster

* Sept. 14 in Lima

* Sept. 27 in Zanesville

* Sept. 29 in Fort Recovery

More details about the farm animal care standards, as well as the upcoming informational sessions are available online.