Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pacelle's Growing Concern Over Farmers Who Tell Their Story

This letter was written by Wayne Pacelle, CEO and President of the Humane Society of the United States

Notice: Beware Farm Bureau Bait-and-Switch

Dear Friend,

As we turn into the new year, I write to alert you to an emerging issue I hope you'll take note of, and to ask for your heightened attention to the subject.

While dog and cat welfare of course remains a core issue for America's animal welfare movement, our cause has always been grounded on a broader concern for protecting all animals from cruelty. The humane movement is built around a concern for any mistreatment and abuse of any animal—whether domesticated or wild or by individuals or institutions. Increasingly, there has been a more careful assessment of how animals are treated in the agribusiness industry. HSUS has done a series of investigations that have exposed inhumane slaughter practices across the nation and the awful mistreatment of animals at stockyards and intermediate transport points. There have also been pointed criticisms focused on the lifelong confinement of certain farm animals—such as veal calves, breeding sows, and laying hens—in cages and crates barely larger than their bodies. Whether you are a devoted carnivore or a committed vegetarian, these inhumane production and slaughter practices should be a concern to every humane advocate.

Two slaughter plants we have investigated have been shuttered, and there is a new national policy prohibiting the slaughter of downer cattle. And in recent elections, citizens in Arizona, California, and Florida have voted by overwhelming margins to phase out the use of certain intensive confinement practices that do not allow animals the opportunity to move in any meaningful way.

The trend toward improved treatment of farm animals is spreading, and that has agitated agribusiness interests, particularly the American Farm Bureau Federation and perhaps even your own state or local Farm Bureau. With a few exceptions in some states, where we worked with reasonable voices in the agriculture industry to negotiate standards for more humane treatment of farm animals—Colorado, Maine, Michigan, and Oregon—state farm bureaus are digging in and mounting counter-measures to thwart reform, especially in states where there are no laws at all to provide for farm animal welfare.

The newly crafted plan of some local, state, and federal Farm Bureau organizations is to try to divide the humane community, in order to undermine support for humane reforms in agriculture. As such, some state Farm Bureaus across the country are now making a concerted effort to forge relationships with local humane organizations, arguing that the care of pets is a laudable goal, but that the broader movement to promote new policies to protect farm animals is wrong and misguided. In some limited number of cases, the Farm Bureaus are even donating to sheltering organizations in order to buy goodwill. These agricultural organizations have never stood for policies to protect companion animals, and it is obvious that this is a strategic effort to block reform and not a sincere effort to associate themselves with our cause.

Although The HSUS welcomes sincere dialogue on farm animal welfare and has spoken with the American Farm Bureau Federation and state Farm Bureaus across the country, their newfound interest in animal protection groups should be treated with some skepticism based on their consistently hostile record on animal welfare issues. Typically, they are the biggest impediment to humane reforms at the state and national level:

Many leading agriculture groups have opposed the imposition of felony-level penalties for cruelty, and they have sought and gained exemptions in anti-cruelty statutes for livestock.

They have lobbied against prohibiting the worst abuses at large-scale puppy mills.

They actively oppose federal legislation to crack down on horse slaughter for human consumption. They believe long-distance transport and slaughter is an appropriate option for these animals, rather than urging individuals to provide lifetime care for their horses or see that humane euthanasia is performed for unwanted horses.

At the federal level, they support indiscriminate and inhumane predator control methods, such as trapping and poisoning which kill and injure non-target wildlife and companion animals.
They have opposed virtually all farm animal reform efforts, including efforts to include poultry under the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, to stop the abuse of downer cattle and pigs who are too sick or injured to walk, and to allow animals on large-scale operations the ability to stand up, lie down, and turn around.

Sadly, even on the clearest policy questions of right and wrong, such as upgrading penalties for animal fighting, Farm Bureau organizations have stood on the sidelines. We urge you not to be deceived by this newly hatched effort by the Farm Bureau to enlist you in opposing legitimate and mainstream animal welfare reforms for animals used in agribusiness. As humane organizations, we have an obligation to confront all forms of cruelty, including the mistreatment of animals raised for food. All public attitude surveys, and the ballot initiative votes in several urban and rural states, indicate that all Americans are concerned about the well-being of these animals, too.

We are pleased as an organization to commit resources to sheltering issues—from Animal Care Expo to Animal Sheltering magazine to The Shelter Pet Project and much more. We think your work on companion animal care programs is critical and it is highly valued. And we are confident you agree that other work in the field of animal protection is important and worthy of support as well. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Sincerely Yours,

Wayne Pacelle
President & CEO
The Humane Society of the United States

Link to this letter

It seems that Wayne Pacelle from the Humane Society of the United States is getting more concerned with farmers and ranchers who are actively telling the accurate story of agriculture and food production. The reason he is concerned is because family farmers and ranchers are much more believable than an animal rights group who has called for abolishing animal agriculture and ending hunting. Even their over-flowing coffers can't compete with the truth. So keep up the good work everyone.

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