My View From The Country

The Beef Industry Takes A Knife To A Gunfight

If consumers knew the real story, they’d discover they have more in common with the beef industry’s vision than that of HSUS.

This week there was a story on that detailed how the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) had partnered with As a result, HSUS was receiving about $400,000 annually from this electronic survey service that most of us have probably used at one time or another.

I’ve never paid anything, so I haven’t indirectly contributed to HSUS. But it seems that every time you turn around you find out HSUS is getting money from people who aren’t aware of what or whom they are donating to. Of course, from a livestock industry perspective that is a little disconcerting.

I’m not advocating straddling the ethical lines that HSUS does in its revenue raising. I still firmly believe that most people who donate to HSUS believe they’re helping pets find a home, and get food or shelter. I don’t believe HSUS could ever collect the millions of dollars in funding it receives if it didn’t lie and manipulate its donor base.

With that said, let me say this about ranchers. We actually do feed a starving world, we actually maintain open space, we actually improve the environment, improve wildlife habitat, and help maintain and sustain rural America. If the American people were honestly told what the average American cattlemen does on a daily basis – and what HSUS does – I honestly believe that ranchers could be the recipients of the lion’s share of those dollars.

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HSUS understands a very important concept; which is, with the majority of American consumers no longer connected to farming and ranching, their perception of the beef business and its people can be shaped regardless of the actual facts. The key to shaping that perception is dollars – dollars spent on lobbying, media, legal fights, and raising more dollars. I’d never recommend adopting the tactics of lying and deceit, but HSUS understands that dollars matter in this battle. Thus, we spend too much time worrying about improving the environment and feeding the world, while HSUS is focused on raising more money.

There are far fewer people who share HSUS’s vision than ours. In fact, if HSUS adopted our model, it would be honest with its messaging, and solicit funding from only those passionate about that vision. HSUS won’t do that, however, because the organization would be out of business in a matter of weeks.

HSUS is a revenue-generating behemoth that raises millions upon millions of dollars under false pretenses. Meanwhile, we quietly go about our work trying to advance commonly held goals with an industry-based model that groups like HSUS hope we’ll never reject.

But you have to ask yourself why our industry persists under the illusion that we can fight this battle alone, simply because of the rightness of our message. Our founding fathers were convinced in their cause. Yet, when they declared their independence, they got help, and it came from France no less. Perhaps we should follow their example and seek out allies.


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Discuss this Blog Entry 8

Anonymous (not verified)
on Oct 5, 2013

you would find many allies in the pet industry.. and with dog breeders.. we have supported you often as most of us feed our pets food made from animal products.. mainly beef and chicken..

on Oct 6, 2013

I've been saying for some time that it is short sighted of any animal agriculture group to fight the good fight alone. We tend to sit all comfy when hen caging is attacked as we don't raise hens. Then we ignore hog confinement issues as we don't raise hogs. We've watched as animal rights groups have vilified dog breeders because we didn't breed dogs or we bred dogs that were exempted from the bad rap. Now with the stroke of a pen USDA APHIS rules have been changed and guess what - while singing the mantra of "puppy mill" they have included rabbits & farm animals in the rules. For now they say "if sold as pets". However, it's a mistake not to hit the roof over this. Guess who is the enforcer for these rules: former HSUS employee Sarah Conant Wake up and smell the coffee

on Oct 6, 2013

Dog breeders have supported all forms of animal agriculture. Learn from dog breeders. They have been divided and conquered by animal rights groups through the power of words that allowed others to define us. Words like "puppy mill" "factory farm" etc are powerful tools. United animal ag can turn the tide but only if we become a band of brothers. FYI did you realize the new APHIS rules include "farm animals"?

Anonymous (not verified)
on Oct 7, 2013

We need to stick together. There has been a little discussion locally on joint sheep and cattle producers meetings as these especially have similiar issues and many local producers have both. We should never attack producers of other species, including dogs.

farmchic88 (not verified)
on Oct 8, 2013

Troy M & Maggie b has this exactly correct. Ag unity is vitally important to our future!! And although dog breeders are not what we would call traditional agriculture, their issues are the same as ours,....animal health, pen space, ventilation, manure management, etc. Rather than pick a fight, we ALL need to make it a point to engage in conversations with consumers and tell our story about what we do and why we do it, reframing the conversation without being defensive. Because, if we don't, someone else will and we likely won't like the message.

S G (not verified)
on Oct 10, 2013

I agree that those in production agriculture should take a united front. A problem that I see is that the individulism of Americas's farmers and ranchers and others in ag is what makes them strong, but this can also cause them to be extremely independent and not want to work together. Not sure that I said that right, but those that live in ag might understand what I am to say

Anonymous (not verified)
on Oct 10, 2013

And you give shelter to homeless animals,fight to stop horse slaughter,fight to stop poaching of wildlife in other countries.
Are not going to inject our meat with growth hormones,make sure that in the long run our mutated crops are not going to do us real harm?

Montana Dept. of Livestock (not verified)
on Oct 11, 2013

Thanks for letting us know. I just cancelled our account.

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What's My View From The Country?

As a fulltime rancher, opinion contributor Troy Marshall brings a unique perspective on how consumer and political trends affect livestock production.


Troy Marshall

Troy Marshall is a multi-generational rancher who grew up in Wheatland, WY, and obtained an Equine Science/Animal Science degree from Colorado State University where he competed on both the livestock...

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