Today great progress was made to lessen the suffering of millions of farmed animals in Ohio - progress that is a direct result of the tireless effort of our volunteers and supporters.

For months, Mercy For Animals has been on the ground, in the streets, and behind-the-scenes working diligently to mobilize support and gather signatures as part of the Ohioans for Humane Farm's campaign to place an initiative on the November ballot that would phase out cruel factory farming practices in the state.

Just recently, once it became known that animal advocates had gathered enough signatures to put the initiative on the ballot, animal agriculture finally agreed to discuss meaningful reforms.!

And today, just hours before over 500,000 signatures were slated to be filed, a major animal protection agreement was reached - preventing costly and contentious campaigning.

Mere hours ago, a landmark settlement was reached between animal protection advocates, Gov. Ted Strickland, and the Ohio agribusiness lobby.

The agreement includes recommendations from all of the parties for the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board, the Legislature, and the Governor to adopt the following provisions:

A ban on veal crates effective in 2017, the same year provided in the ballot measure.
A ban on new gestation crates in the state after Dec. 31, 2010. Existing facilities are grandfathered, but must cease use of these crates within 15 years.
A moratorium on permits for new battery cage confinement facilities for laying hens.
Regulations regarding the manner in which sick and injured farmed a! nimals can be killed, including a ban on strangulation.
A ban on the transport of downer cows for slaughter.
Enactment of legislation establishing felony-level penalties for cockfighters.
Enactment of legislation cracking down on puppy mills.
A ban on the acquisition of dangerous exotic animals as pets, such as primates, bears, lions, tigers, large constricting and venomous snakes, crocodiles and alligators.
While this agreement puts a hold on the planned anti-factory farming initiative for this fall's ballot, the gathered signatures still remain valid for years to come - giving us the option to go back to the ballot if the terms of the agreement are not fulfilled.

Mercy For Animals will continue to work diligently to protect Ohio's farmed animals from cruelty, hold abusers accountable, educate the public ! on farmed animal issues, and advocate for stricter state and federal laws.

This landmark, hard-fought progress for Ohio's animals would not have been possible without the determined, selfless, and inspiring work of hundreds of volunteers and supporters. Truly, because of you, today we have moved our society toward a kinder future for animals.