The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has been a pain in the back for agriculture producers across the nation. However, HSUS and similar activist groups are being exposed for what they really are about by organizations interested in maintaining the livelihoods of farmers and ranchers across the U.S.
At the 25th annual World Pork Expo this past week Rick Berman, chief executive officer of Berman and Company (an organization that leads HumaneWatch) and Brian Klippenstein, executive director of Protect the Harvest, spoke during the Strategic Investment Program luncheon.
Both men shared with the crowd their experience being advocates for agriculture and other industries.
Berman started combating animal activist groups like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) before moving onto what he calls "the bigger problem." His group HumaneWatch has been setting the record straight on HSUS since 2010 by placing advertisements in Times Square and having commercials appear on national television.
"The animal welfare movement has now gotten mixed into the animal rights movement," stated Berman.
Berman says Wayne Pacelle, the chief executive officer of HSUS, is to be commended for his ability to get donations and ramp up support for his group, but he’s been doing it in an untruthful manner.
"If he's got to spend a dollar he'd rather spend it on chickens than cats or dogs," Berman says. "But that's not what he tells the donors. He tells them their money is for cats and dogs."
Many donors to HSUS see the images of abused pets and think it’s going to their local shelters to help dogs and cats. In actuality donation money is going to advertising campaigns and starting legislation that negatively affects animal agriculture, which will ultimately move the U.S. consumer in a more vegan direction.
"At the end of the day all he (Pacelle) is about is increasing the cost for agriculture," Berman relates.
Rick Berman of HumaneWatch Protect the Harvest, the organization Klippenstein is involved with, has been focused on the media in their campaigns and part of the strategy has been to inform, protect and respond.
Klippenstein understands the reality behind animal agriculture as he was raised on a farm in Missouri.
"Your love of animals is real," says Klippenstein. "It's good business to love the animals."
He said during his presentation that Washington, D.C., has become one the richest places in the U.S. and non-profit groups like HSUS and PETA are part of this movement.
"These non-profits have become lucrative,” he says. "Never underestimate how entrepreneurial our opponents are."
He addressed the backlash from activist groups by saying, "If we don't fight, we will lose."
Klippenstein shared at the event some advice his wife Jackie told him, "We need to become as good at humanizing farmers as they (activist groups) are at humanizing animals."
This brings back around the point of agriculture producers being more actively engaged in telling their story through social media or just by having a discussion with consumers in the grocery story.
"But at the end of the day, Paul Harvey was right. You guys are it," ended Klippenstein.