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Ohio advances bill to ban feral swine and protect agriculture

Ohio advances bill to ban feral swine and protect agriculture

By Andi Anderson

Ohio's agriculture sector has taken a significant step forward with the recent House approval of H.B. 503. The bill, which passed with a unanimous vote of 89-0, seeks to ban the importation and hunting of feral swine.

This legislative action aims to safeguard Ohio's swine herd from diseases, including African swine fever, and mitigate environmental damage caused by these non-native animals.

Cheryl Day, the executive vice president of the Ohio Pork Council, expressed optimism about the bill's future.

"We're celebrating today's vote in the House, and we remain very optimistic that this bill will see bipartisan passage in the Senate soon to pave the way of giving our state’s largest industry — agriculture — the added protection from the risk of foreign animal diseases that we’re seeking," Day remarked following the House vote.

The bill also addresses the prohibition of garbage feeding, a practice that contributes to disease risks. The Ohio Veterinary Medical Association supports the bill, with its executive director, Christopher Henney, emphasizing the health risks posed by feral swine.

"By outlawing the hunting and importation of feral swine into the state, Ohio will continue to be a national leader in the agriculture and animal health industries," Henney wrote in his testimony.

The impact of feral swine extends beyond disease. They cause significant damage to land, crops, soil, and water resources, costing the nation approximately $1.5 billion annually.

Day underscores the importance of the bill, stating that the damage alone justifies the legislative measures.

Support for the bill spans various agricultural sectors, including the Cattleman’s Association, the Soybean Association, and the Dairy Producers Association. Their collective backing highlights the bill's importance to Ohio's broader agricultural community.

As the bill now moves to the Senate, proponents like Rep. Don Jones and Rep. Juanita Brent remain hopeful. Jones commended the Ohio Pork Council for its leadership, while Brent highlighted the proactive nature of the bill in setting agricultural standards for Ohio.

As Cheryl Day concluded, "We’re grateful to the leadership of the House Ag Committee, representatives Bob Peterson, Don Jones, and all those who have supported us on this journey to get us to this point of bringing greater protection to our state’s livestock and crop producers."

The agricultural community looks forward to seeing H.B. 503 cross the final hurdle in the Senate to fulfill its objective of protecting Ohio's farmers and their livelihoods.

Photo Credit: istock-srdjan-stepic

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Categories: Ohio, Livestock, Hogs

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