Adams: If I come to your office, I assume you have a cafeteria there, can I find meat in that cafeteria?
Pacelle: We don’t’ have a cafeteria. People bring their lunch or go out. We don’t’ have a food service line.
Adams: When you go into a state, you come in and start talking about changes in livestock production practices. The question that has to be asked is: what is your expertise or the expertise that HSUS has that makes your group more of an authority on animal welfare than say the veterinarians or industry professionals who are caring for animals on a daily basis? Why is your way necessarily better than what the industry is saying?
Pacelle: Let me mention that it’s not just California that approved the ballot initiative to restrict certain intensive confinement practices. With the phase out acknowledging that farmers do need to transition and that you can’t flip the switch overnight, but Arizona approved the measure by a similar margin, nearly 63% and Florida voters by a wide margin also approved the measure. In a number of other states we sat down with the leaders of the agriculture community and negotiated a compromise. Kind of in contrast to this very dogmatic view that comes across in the ag trade press about HSUS. We’re very much willing to compromise, we’re willing to talk, we’re willing to work through problems and understand the dilemmas and economic challenges that large scale producers have.
We’re willing to sit down. We never really just present things as take it or leave it. A ballot initiative is a last resort after legislatures fail to act and after state ag departments fail to act and after leaders of agriculture groups fail to act. We prefer not to resort to initiatives. They are costly, they are divisive and we always prefer another route. We won’t just completely relent and allow what we regard as a dangerous and inhumane situation to proceed.
Adams: Most in the agriculture industry or livestock industry feel that you’re not wiling to come to some middle ground or negotiation. They feel you come in and it’s “our way or no way” and that you won’t accept any compromise on these issue.
Pacelle: That is the caricature that is the kind of one way writing of the situation, but if you look at the reality, we did three ballot initiatives after discussions and talks failed and we reached an accommodation in several other states. I sat around with leaders of the agriculture community in Colorado, in multiple meetings, there were similar processes, not quite as detailed and face-to-face in other states. But we relented on the issue of battery cage egg production in Colorado when that issue came to the table and the ag community was willing to have a shorter phase out for veal production and a longer phase out for gestation crates for pig production. We went up to 10 years for the phase out on that issue. To me that is plain evidence that we are willing to compromise.