HSUS and the Nebraska Meeting

Posted: 11/24/2010

Posted By:  Kelly Nelson (Wubben)

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) was pretty busy this weekend in Nebraska.  The group hosted a town hall meeting in Lincoln on Sunday.   Unlike their meeting in South Dakota in August of this year, this one seemed to be open to the public, for the most part

I had made plans to attend this meeting, as curiosity was getting the best of me since their CEO Wayne Pacelle would be in attendance in the flesh.  However, my plans to attend did not happen thanks to our lovely South Dakota weather and the freezing drizzle we received. 

It sounds as though agriculture was well represented at the gathering as many tough questions were asked of Wayne.  I was told University of Nebraska ag students had some good questions for Wayne and like any good politician, he did his best to avoid directly answering them. 

I was very disappointed to hear a farmer was going to be hosting Wayne Pacelle and his group for this town hall meeting.  The farmer hosting HSUS is a Nebraska organic producer who has been a critic of today's agricultural practices. 

I first want to make this very clear:  I do NOT have an issue with anyone who wants to venture into the organic market.  Luckily we live in America where consumers have many choices including purchasing organic products.  I do, however, have a problem with anyone who claims one method of production is better than another or who jumps at a chance to demonize another production method and other farmers and ranchers.

By siding with HSUS, this farmer is saying that "what I do and how I raise my livestock and crops is better than any conventional method, and I do not care what happens to other producers." 

HSUS knows in a rural state like Nebraska where agriculture is the backbone, the only way to win a ballot measure is to divide and conquer.  If one group is busy dissing and insulting the next, they think they can slip by.  By pinning organic farmers against others, HSUS can use this as an advantage when talking to urban folks by saying we have the support of farmers and ranchers.  This is far from the truth.  

You may be asking, why would this organic farmer want to side with HSUS?  Simple:  he does not see how HSUS will be threatening his livelihood in the near future.  In the states that HSUS has proposed ballot measures -- Florida, Ohio, California and Michigan - there are restrictions on livestock housing such as cages for chickens or gestation stalls for hogs.   This organic farmer does not use any of these methods of production.  I won't debate why most farmers use these methods and the science that supports them.  Perhaps these are blog topics for another day.

The point is that this farmer may not see a direct impact on his operation; the time will come when HSUS goes even further and tries to push even harsher restrictions which will affect him.  HSUS will not stop at housing, their end agenda is a vegetarian/vegan society.   They even want our pets to eat vegetarian.   There are quotes after quotes of HSUS officials supporting the idea of not using any animal products. 

Let's not let HSUS succeed with the idea of divide and conquer.  They say there isn't a ballot initiative in the works, but the town meeting in Lincoln is a high profile activity that generated a number of media articles and even a billboard.

In South Dakota, we may think that HSUS will never target us.  Unfortunately, that's what our colleagues in Ohio, Missouri and Nebraska thought, too.  It may be two years, five years, or ten years away, but with their newly hired HSUS State Director and their track record of traveling state to state with their $100 million dollar budget, the day will come when they try to restrict and abolish animal agriculture in our state. 

The Nebraska meeting is an important reminder of what we in agriculture need to be doing every day: telling our story, whenever the opportunity presents itself.  We need to be proactive every day in talking about why we use certain production methods and how we care for our livestock and the environment.


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