Ohio’s hog and egg industries, which together generated more than $1 billion in sales in 2008, recently negotiated compromises with the Humane Society of the United States on housing practices for farm animals.

The agreement, reached behind closed doors in late June and brokered by Gov. Ted Strickland, headed off a potentially nasty battle leading up to the November elections that both sides said could have cost millions of dollars and bruised agriculture’s public image.

The deal, if implemented, isn’t expected to have much impact on what consumers pay for pork and eggs. But some fear it could discourage outside investment in Ohio’s hog and egg industries.

Under the compromise, the state’s Livestock Care Standards Board — created by voters last year through state Issue 2 — will be asked to end existing hog farms’ use of crates to house pregnant sows by the end of 2025. New hog farms would be banned from using gestation crates after this year.

Some local pork producers, initially disappointed by the agreement, said it may have been the best option under the circumstances. The state’s few hundred hog farmers who house sows have 15 years to make the transition, but like egg farmers would have had only six years under a proposed ballot initiative for which the HSUS collected signatures prior to the compromise.

“We bought ourselves some time,” said Phillip Jordan, whose family raises hogs in Preble County near the Indiana border and has 950 sows.

The board also will be asked to place a moratorium on new egg farms that confine chickens in “battery cages.” Existing egg farms could continue to operate as they currently do, but could only expand caged egg production at existing facilities.

If voters had approved the HSUS’ ballot initiative in November’s elections, Tim Weaver said his Versailles-based Weaver Bros. Inc. would have gone out of business in six years rather than invest $125 million or more to revamp its large chicken houses for cage-free production. The compromise gives him more confidence his egg operation can be passed down to a fourth generation, he said.

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Source: Dayton Daily News