My View From The Country

Snuggling With HSUS, With One Eye Open

Many of the groups that have “cooperated” with HSUS were almost forced to do so in order to avoid costly battles.

Every agricultural organization out there has to be a little envious of the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS). And it’s not just because of the group’s ability to amass huge sums of money and attract members, but its ability to claim and hold the moral high ground – whether it’s deserved or not.

HSUS went after its critics this week, attacking Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman and Rick Berman, a prominent lobbyist for the restaurant industry and an avowed HSUS foe. Berman has been raising questions about HSUS’s money-raising tactics, namely that most of its members and donors erroneously are led to believe they are supporting an organization (HSUS) that runs animal shelters or cares for abused animals. In actuality, pet shelters are a minute and token part of HSUS’s budget and an even smaller priority.

Of course, standing for animal welfare and standing up against the establishment and modern agriculture is a popular thing to do in some circles, and HSUS is great at it. HSUS also likes to point out its agreements with agricultural groups like the Ohio Farm Bureau, the Nebraska Farmer’s Union and the United Egg Producers. And the organization is eloquent and vociferous in its pronouncements that it wants to work with the livestock industry to provide animal protection. The reality is that everyone wants to provide the best care available for animals; nobody opposes that.

You must understand that many of the groups that have “cooperated” with HSUS were almost forced to do so in order to avoid costly battles. In many cases, the resolutions were masterful, in that any harm to the industry was minimal and concerned changes in practices that a relatively uniformed public would likely highly support.

I acknowledge that most people I know who have worked with organizations like HSUS at the highest levels are convinced that the organization’s true commitment is the eventual demise of livestock production. Of course, HSUS denies this.

It presents a dilemma to the industry. If HSUS is an entity we can work with and is truly only concerned about animal welfare, then they should be an ally. But, if HSUS is truly driven to end animal agriculture, then we are, in essence, aiding the organization in a drawn-out process that will result in death by a thousand cuts.

Personally, I believe HSUS’s ultimate intentions are clear, but I don’t blame any of the ag groups that have aligned with the organization. By doing so, they avoided worse outcomes of a confrontation for which they had neither the money nor political power to match what HSUS could bring to bear.

I hope I’m wrong, because if I’m not then HSUS’s money and numbers combined with a divide-and-conquer strategy will be unstoppable. That is, unless the industry figures out how to claim the moral high ground, and that means absolutely eliminating any perception of animal abuse at all times.

Certainly words are not enough. No one disputes that animal welfare is not only the right thing to do, but the economically right decision for producers as well. But as long as the livestock industry wears the black hats, we’ll continue to pay the price.

Discuss this Blog Entry 5

Anonymous (not verified)
on Mar 16, 2012

we'd be far further ahead to partner with HumaneWatch and assist in exposing the insidious, lying agenda driven fraud that H$U$ perpetrate on a daily basis.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Mar 16, 2012

Why not do to HSUS what they have been doing to farms and ranches for years. Get in the organisation an expose the real truth about them, their tactics and their bold lies. A real good idea but who wants to be the fool to love up to such idiots.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Mar 16, 2012

Feedstuffs, an agribusiness newspaper, has leveled the charge that HSUS is pursuing a vegetarianism and veganism agenda instead of animal welfare In 2010, one journalist in Oregon also claimed that HSUS "primarily works on animal rights legislation ^ The Oregonian". Retrieved 2011-03-30.

Current HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle is a vegan,and follows a diet excludes all animal products, including eggs, dairy, and honey. His goal is to make everyone do the same.

on Mar 17, 2012

There are several errors in your article! You state several times that H$U$ is concerned about animal WELFARE this is False! H$U$ openly pushes for animal RIGHTS. H$U$ puts animal Rights above Human Rights! "Rights" mean that an animal can sue its owner. Actually H$U$ doesn't think animals have owners only caretakers. YES, H$U$ is truly driven to end animal agriculture, in all forms. They are starting with the dog kennel producers but be assured that cattle producers are high on their hit list. They have openly stated that their goal is for everyone to become a VEGAN. By "Snuggling with them" you are providing a false creditability to them, and they have already got you/us. One eye open is totally insufficient when dealing with H$U$. I agree with the first post "we'd be far further ahead to partner with Humane Watch and assist in exposing the insidious, lying agenda driven fraud that H$U$ perpetrate on a daily basis." The article "HSUS Sets Its Sights On The Beef Industry"by Dave Sjeklocha in Vet's Opinion, is written by a much better informed author and is a good read..

Anonymous (not verified)
on Mar 19, 2012

Sure, let that Trojan Turnip into your farm, and keep thinking they will 'work' with you.... They will lull you, and then sneak out and slay animal agriculture. Their agenda is not to work with farmers; it is to quash / dictate / abolish animal agriculture. You have been lulled by the ever-amazing, brilliant propaganda engine that H$U$ has assembled, which is fueled by the endless donations sent by kind-hearted people who THINK they helping poor, abused puppy dogs, kitty cats, baby seals, etc. I agree with the previous poster - the ag world needs to use the same spin tactics that are so successful for H$U$ - do an expose on their rabid methods, the abuses H$U$ inflict, all in the name of changing this country's way of life. Man has been an omnivore since the beginning of time. They can just quietly go eat their veggie chips and leave us alone!

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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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