The dairy industry is getting attacked left and right by animal-rightists. David Martosko, director of research for the Center for Consumer Freedom, refers to these types as “humaniacs.”
And, he says, when it comes to dealing with them, there are 10 lessons you need to learn. Martosko shared these lessons last week at the Western United Dairymen Convention in Modesto, Calif.
Lesson 1: Animal welfare is not the same as animal rights.
Believers in animal welfare say we have a right to make proper and humane use of animals, and that we have a duty to treat animals properly, says Martosko. There is a moral distinction between animals and human beings.
But animal rights is a dogma, almost a religious belief, he explains. In this view, what gives moral value to life is the ability to suffer. And since a cow can feel pain and a human can feel pain, they are equal. The ultimate goal of the animal-rights movement is the complete elimination of the domestication of all animals.
Lesson 2: PETA and HSUS are both animal-rights groups.
Both the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) are animal-rights groups. They will manipulate you into producing and selling less and less milk until eventually there is none, says Martosko.
These groups are not promoting the kinder treatment of farm animals; they are promoting the abolition of farm animals. They want to make it prohibitively expensive to raise animals for protein.
Lesson 3: HSUS is a business.
For the 2008 fiscal year, HSUS had an income of $85.8 million, a budget of $99.7 million and net assets of $162.2 million. More than $24 million was spent on fundraising in 2008.
“This is not a group of little old ladies, this is a business,” explains Martosko.
Lesson 4: PETA is a side-show distraction.
The goal of PETA is to make HSUS look moderate by comparison.
Martosko compares PETA to a pick-pocket; they are all about the flair, while HSUS is like a con-man who makes you like him and draws you in slowly before he picks you clean.
Lesson 5: HSUS is not a real humane society.
HSUS is not affiliated with any pet shelters, and they hardly give any money to pet shelters.
Martosko notes that 0.45 percent of their money was actually shared with real (local) humane societies in 2008.
Lesson 6: HSUS director Wayne Pacelle is a politician, not a stakeholder.
Pacelle does not believe there is a single piece of humanely raised meat on the planet, explains Martosko. That makes him an outsider as far as meat, eggs, and dairy production go.
Lesson 7: You are in an endless war with HSUS (whether or not you want to be).
This is not a short-term deal, says Martosko. It is impossible to fully pacify an animal-rights group.
To HSUS, cage-free is not humane. Cruelty-free means you don’t eat the egg, he explains.
Lesson 8: Public opinion is everything.
Eighty-three percent have a favorable view of HSUS. Seventy-one percent of Americans believe HSUS is an umbrella group for local pet shelters. Sixty-three percent believe their own local animal shelter is affiliated with HSUS. And 59 percent believe HSUS shares most of its money with local pet shelters.
They are all wrong, notes Martosko. But 25 percent of Americans still believe animals deserve the same rights as people.
Lesson 9: You can’t win a football game without a defense and an offense.
“You are in a war and you can’t win the game with only defense,” Martosko says. “You need both offense and defense. You have to tell the truth about who they are.”
It’s not just enough to tell your story; you have to start telling the truth about them, too.
Lesson 10: All convention wisdom is flexible, but there is no public opinion tooth fairy.
In 2003, PETA had a public approval rating of 73 percent. Today, their public approval rating has dropped to 49 percent.
But if you are not driving the message of who HSUS is, they will drive their own message, says Martosko.
“You can choose – are you in the war or not?” asks Martosko. And, he says it’s as simple as that because you either believe in your profession or you don’t – there is no middle ground.