Anti Animal Ag Agenda

We are fortunate to have a number of choices when selecting food for our families. From dining out to farmers markets, grocery stores and our own gardens ... we can select the foods that meet our budgets, taste buds, dietary requirements, and even moral or ethical concerns. Sometimes, though, those choices can be overwhelming, with conflicting messages about how food is produced.

There are a number of groups that mislead the public about today's agriculture and hide their anti-agriculture agendas behind photos of puppies in animal shelters. Or, organizations that raise millions of dollars and spend the majority on lobbying against agriculture instead of helping local shelters. Many organizations with an anti-ag agenda make emotional appeals for money based on emotions, not facts, research or scientific evidence.

There are a number of resources online available to answer questions that you may have about South Dakota agriculture.  Their are also farmers and ranchers who are willing to offer tours of their farms.  In South Dakota consumers can look for open house events and Days Out on the Farm tours in your area. Or, contact us at the office with any questions. We want you to have all the facts you need to make your own well-informed decision.

Animal Rights vs. Animal Welfare

As more and more of our society becomes several generations removed from the farm, the relationship that many people have with animals has changed. No longer are animals needed for labor or food production, but for companionship and entertainment. While production livestock are not pets, the top priority of South Dakota farmers and ranchers is still the welfare and well-being of the animals in their care.

Animal Welfare is the responsibility of humans to provide for the well-being of animals in their care, including proper housing, management, disease prevention and treatment, and humane handling. Healthy, well-cared for animals are more content, easier to manage, and produce better, higher quality products for consumers. Animal welfare is also the top priority of the thousands of people who run or volunteer at pet shelters and other local humane society organizations.

Farmers invest in modern, climate-controlled buildings to keep animals comfortable during extreme weather conditions, and to prevent the spread of diseases. They hire nutritionists to ensure animals receive the right mix of nutrients, and work with veterinarians to prevent and treat disease.

In contrast, Animal Rights is a philosophical view that animals have rights similar to or the same as humans. Many animal rights proponents believe that humans do not have the right to use animals at all, and wish to ban all use of animals including production agriculture, hunting fishing, petting zoos, life-saving medical research, rodeos and horse racing.

Groups Opposed to Today's Agriculture

There are several high profile organizations that are focused on limiting consumers' opportunities to choose the foods they feed their families. Their missions are on limiting or eliminating livestock production and promoting animal rights activism.

Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)

Don't let the name fool you. While 71 percent of people surveyed thought that the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is an umbrella group for local animal shelters, in fact, very little money given to HSUS will ever reach an animal shelter.

According to HSUS's 2008 tax return, less than half of one percent (0.5%) of HSUS budget consisted of grants to hands-on pet shelters. And in 2009, again according to HSUS's the tax returns, less than one percent of HSUS's budget (0.8%, to be exact) consisted of grants to shelters. Despite its annual budget of more than $100 million, the Humane Society of the United States doesn't actually provide much hands-on care to pets.

So, if HSUS donations don't go to fund local animal shelters, where do they go? In addition to funding executive salaries and pension funds, millions of HSUS budget go toward lobbying, including costly ballot initiatives that target family farmers. HSUS's national agenda is fundamentally focused on furthering an animal "rights" philosophy.

Visit www.humanewatch.org to learn more about HSUS' agenda and fundraising.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)

PETA is an animal rights organization that is well-known for provocative and headline-catching campaigns to promote veganism and discourage use of animals or animal products for any reason. The organization relies on high profile campaigns and celebrity endorsements to draw fundraising.

On PETA's web site, an explanation of animal rights states:

Supporters of animal rights believe that animals have an inherent worth—a value completely separate from their usefulness to humans. We believe that every creature with a will to live has a right to live free from pain and suffering. Animal rights is not just a philosophy—it is a social movement that challenges society's traditional view that all nonhuman animals exist solely for human use. As PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk has said, "When it comes to pain, love, joy, loneliness, and fear, a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy."

Mercy for Animals

According to the organization's website, Mercy For Animals is a national non-profit organization dedicated to preventing cruelty to farmed animals and promoting compassionate food choices and policies. The group claims that "Over 99% of cruelty to animals in the United States occurs at the hands of the meat, dairy, and egg industries - which confine, mutilate, and slaughter over 9 billion animals each year. As such, MFA primarily focuses on farmed animal advocacy and promoting cruelty-free food choices."

Mercy for Animals has become well-known for its undercover investigations and videos of animal mistreatment. These videos are often graphic and disturbing. Ag United does not condone the activities in these videos: Any incident of animal abuse is unacceptable and should be reported to appropriate authorities immediately.

However, Mercy for Animals has also been criticized for unethical means of recording these videos, including misrepresenting themselves during the hiring process at farms, and either encouraging abuse, or allowing it to continue without reporting to farm management or law enforcement. Read an interview with dairy farm owner in Ohio following undercover video investigation.

Keep it Local

There are a number of great organizations in South Dakota communities that run animal shelters and provide care to abandoned or unwanted animals.

Here are a few you can contact directly for more information on how to donate locally:

Sioux Falls Area Humane Society

Humane Society of the Black Hills

Heartland Humane Society

Aberdeen Area Humane Society

Brookings Regional Humane Society

Western Hills Humane Society