Nebraska’s We Support Agriculture taking a stand

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Geni Wren A new group, We Support Agriculture, has formed in Nebraska drawing from cattlemen, pork producers, dairymen, poultry producers, veterinarians and others to stand up and let the world know, as its tagline says, that Nebraska farmers care.

The group was formed in response to animal extremist groups attacking animal agriculture in Nebraska, especially groups like the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). On the site, Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman says, “HSUS is out to destroy animal agriculture. They want to destroy the foundation of Nebraska’s economy, and that’s why we can’t trust HSUS. Their actions reflect something different than what they say."

The Web site says HSUS has been targeting Nebraska. It hired a lobbyist and state director, who is hosting regular organizational meetings. And it has conducted a push poll, a condemned form of negative, emotional polling which aggressively pushes an agenda on the general public. The group advocates the belief that eating meat is unhealthy and portray farming practices as abusive and cruel.

This had made Wayne Pacelle of HSUS upset. In a blog on his site, he whines about the “stubbornness” of the Nebraska agriculture community that won’t bend to his will and what he wants. “I specifically told them that we would not be conducting a ballot initiative campaign in the state, as we had done in a few other places, but that we wanted to sit down and see if we could work together to find a pathway forward,” Pacelle writes in his blog. “Shortly thereafter, Heineman’s response was emphatic: "In Nebraska, no deal, no compromise.” He’s been traveling the state, engaging in naked demagogy and trying to demonize The HSUS for having the gall to reach out to farmers and stand up for the well-being of farm animals.”

Seriously? After HSUS has demonized farmers and ranchers for years, Pacelle believes that Heineman is the gatekeeper keeping HSUS from getting in front of them? And why should they meet with him just because he demands it? Is he a veterinarian? A producer? Involved in agriculture? Why do they need to waste their time with a self-proclaimed expert on their business at his whim? Does he know how to handle/house/care for livestock better than, say, Dr. Dee Griffin or Dr. Tom Noffsinger who are tireless in their teaching and training of low-stress handling and proper cattle care?

I also read carefully Pacelle’s blog statement. While he says in one instance HSUS will not be conducting a ballot initiative, in another instance he states, “…we are not going to conduct a ballot initiative there in the foreseeable future.” Semantics? My foreseeable future may be never. HSUS’ foreseeable future may be when they figure out they can’t just break through some good Cornhusker fortitude.

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Karen Michael, BSN, RN    
Arizona  |  September, 20, 2011 at 10:31 AM

Dr. Wren, you can blame HSUS and other organizations all you want for 'demonizing farmers and ranchers', but unfortunately agribusiness has been doing a great job of that all on its own. Your industry's strategy of painting animal protection groups as extremists is disingenuous and ineffective. Yet you continue to ignore significant public concern about humane treatment of farm animals. Citizens throughout the US have sent that strong message numerous times by voting to ban the cruel confinement of pigs, calves, and hens. Instead of vilifying animal protection groups and concerned citizens, why not work with them to improve the lives of animals in industrial agricultural facilities?

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