I’ll throw out a few ideas that should be broad enough for anybody in agriculture to get behind:
1. Farmers and veterinarians are in a much better position to make decisions about animal welfare than the HSUS/PETA crowd.
2. HSUS gives only one percent of the money it raises to pet shelters.
3. HSUS presents itself as a moderate cat-and-dog group, but HSUS wants to harm farmers.
4. HSUS is not a stakeholder in animal agriculture.
There are a few instances where a broad alliance has occurred: Missouri and Nebraska being two notable ones. In Missouri farm groups united because of a 2010 ballot initiative and, after nearly beating HSUS at the ballot box, were able to repeal parts of the law and have since been on the legislative offensive.
In Nebraska, a broad ag alliance has largely warded off HSUS. The governor has publicly told HSUS to get lost, and HSUS has even agreed to taking a ballot initiative off the table. (Or so HSUS has promised.)
A mutual defense pact combines resources and covers weak points. No one sector of the ag community is footing the bill. Resources are spread out widely.
And it doesn’t have to be just a defense pact. Defense can be a deterrent, but playing defense doesn’t score points. It’s important to maintain sustained operations to keep the general public informed about HSUS’s agenda and its deceptive factory fundraising.
HSUS has a weak underbelly. A recent poll finds that 69 percent of respondents take a negative view of HSUS when they learn that HSUS gives only 1 percent of the money it raises to shelters.
HSUS’s financial—and political—power relies on a gap between perception and reality. It’s time for ag to unite in closing that gap and make HSUS the next PETA: Noisy and a nuisance, but mostly irrelevant.
Rick Berman is the Executive Director of the Center for Consumer Freedom, a nonprofit coalition supported by restaurants, food companies and consumers to promote personal responsibility and protect consumer choices. Visit HumaneWatch.org to learn more.
The views expressed in this commentary are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the position of PorkNetwork.