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Spotlight on Animal Ag

March 12, 2011
By: Sara Brown, Farm Journal Livestock and Production Editor

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Watch the three-part video of Wayne Pacelle's interview.

It’s not often that someone involved with agriculture has the chance to sit down across the table from the president of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).

When Wayne Pacelle was in Missouri lobbying to keep the state’s Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act intact, we had just the opportunity.

Throughout the interview, Pacelle emphasized his organization’s desire to have an open dialogue with farmers, but his intentions were vague.

"I think the agreement we hatched in Ohio was a great example. We were heading toward a ballot initiative and then we all sat down together ... and we crafted a solution that none of us felt was entirely good, but one that we could move forward with," he said.

The Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board was developed in November 2009. In June 2010, Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation and HSUS agreed on an action plan called the Buckeye Compromise with the condition that HSUS would not pursue a ballot initiative. While he said there are currently no plans to do the same thing in Missouri in regard to farm animal welfare, Pacelle was adamant the conversation has to begin.

"I think what we want is a general principle, not just in Missouri, of more dialogue and more discussion, which is part of the reason I’m talking to you guys. We want to have this discussion with farmers," he said.

Ideals and practices. So what does HSUS want the ideal farm to look like? "I just visited one of our member’s cattle ranch in Nebraska, 1,000 cattle, and I think they are doing a fabulous job," Pacelle said.

When asked about what practices this cattle farmer was using, Pacelle wouldn’t give specifics.
"You haven’t ever really heard any big criticisms on the production side of raising cattle from the humane society," Pacelle said. "Cattle are generally in extensive systems—they are grazing, they are outside. We have been concerned about downer cows. We have advocated for a no-downer policy, and we think that is a sensible policy from an animal care perspective as well as from the beef industry’s perspective."

HSUS’s stance on swine and poultry production practices are more intensive. Several industry associations have recently banded together to protect farmers from threats of new regulations. Sidestepping the traditional ag groups, Pacelle said HSUS is forming its own farmers and ranchers council.

Money and image.
HSUS has been most criticized in regard to its financial transparency and its image as an umbrella animal shelter organization. In 2009, the most recent year for which data was available at press time, HSUS’s tax return reported an annual budget of $121 million.
Pacelle would not comment on the amount of money his organization spends on animal welfare research to develop care standards for housing and human interaction with animals, including livestock.

"We have an agreement with the Ohio groups to together spend money on research to solve some of these issues and to give farmers best practices in moving forward with animal production strategies," Pacelle said. "But HSUS is one group. What do all the farm groups spend on research? Why is all the scrutiny on HSUS about trying to micromanage everything we do? We do things because that is what our board and our members want. The reason groups are concerned about us is because we are very effective."

Of concern to the ag industry: Where does HSUS get its information to build its cases against livestock producers?

"The authority comes from—these are moral questions. I mean, the Humane Society has veterinarians and animal scientists; it has a whole scientific convoy of people. Science alone doesn’t give you the answer. Science and values together give you answers."

As people become even farther removed from the farm, it will be increasingly important for all of the ag community to be diligent in both science and farm values.

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FEATURED IN: Farm Journal - March 2011

 
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COMMENTS (8 Comments)

Livestock Sara - Mexico, MO
John, thanks for your question. My question was what research does HSUS use to determine what humane standards for livestock are. In the video, Pacelle was quick to say that they do not perform animal research, but have their own animal scientists. If I had the opportunity, I would continue that line of questioning.
12:47 PM Mar 22nd
 
John - Hanover, IN
Sara Brown asked Pacelle: Q. Of concern to the ag industry: Where does HSUS get its information to build its cases against livestock producers?

Pacelles answer was to rant about "morals"

Sara, I'm not sure where you were going with the Q. Can you elaborate a little for us?
John Shelton
4:53 PM Mar 20th
 
cattleco2
PAcelle%20is%20a%20slick%20talker%20and%20a%20DOmestic%20Terrorist!%20%20He%20and%20HSUS%20are%20und​er%20investigation%20by%20the%20Justice%20Dept%20for%20Racketering%20and%20Money%20Laundrying%20char​ges......they%20will%20put%20this%20terrorist%20in%20Jail%20soon​
3:01 PM Mar 20th
 
cattleco2
PAcelle%20is%20a%20slick%20talker%20and%20a%20DOmestic%20Terrorist!%20%20He%20and%20HSUS%20are%20und​er%20investigation%20by%20the%20Justice%20Dept%20for%20Racketering%20and%20Money%20Laundrying%20char​ges......they%20will%20put%20this%20terrorist%20in%20Jail%20soon​
3:01 PM Mar 20th
 
cattleco2
PAcelle is a slick talker and a DOmestic Terrorist! He and HSUS are under investigation by the Justice Dept for Racketering and Money Laundrying charges......they will put this terrorist in Jail soon​
3:01 PM Mar 20th
 
cattleco2
PAcelle is a slick talker and a DOmestic Terrorist! He and HSUS are under investigation by the Justice Dept for Racketering and Money Laundrying charges......they will put this terrorist in Jail soon​
3:01 PM Mar 20th
 
adh - canton , OK
Charles,
Thanks for pointing this fact out because it is so important foranimal ag producers to understand. HSUS' 100 point agenda (google it) lays out their plan to abolish animal agriculture via government entitities such as EPA and many others. At this point animal ag producers are having trouble identifying friends from fo. With a little research it's perfectly clear that HSUS is no friend, just a very cunning enemy.
Thanks for the links I'll pass them on.
2:30 PM Mar 20th
 
charless - Wake Co, NC
In trying to help my daughter research a report on political parties I ran into the site below: http://socialistparty-usa.org/platform/
It stated:
As we pursue a socialist transformation of society, we join with others in making radical demands on the existing system: demands that challenge the basic assumptions of a capitalist market economy while pointing the way to a new society. Although reforms will not in themselves bring about socialism, the fight for them will advance the cause by demonstrating the inherent limitations and injustice of the capitalist system. As we build the socialist movement, we organize around a platform committed to our common and interdependent struggles and aspirations.

http://socialistparty-usa.org/platform/animalrights.html

It seems to be part of their platform!

Needless to say I have never seen another political party blatently hold up animal rights to such high standards. Within 10 seconds I realized how HSUS and other animal rights organizations are extremely anti capitalist in money lost in all venues that use an animal for food, life saving science or just enjoyment. There is no doubt that they are anti capitalist. That is one freightening thought for the cattle and myself. I would have never seen this if I had been helping my daughter research on the internet. It would really give our government representatives something to think about and maybe they need to stop and figure out how much money the economy has lost in the USA because of animal rights.
10:37 AM Mar 12th
 



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