Protect the Harvest

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As activist groups increasingly attack modern agriculture and food production, several groups recently have formed to fight back. One of the latest of these is Protect the Harvest, a group that plans to work within state governments and in the public arena to combat activist assaults on agriculture.

One of the groups founders and board members, Iowa State Representative Erik Helland, spoke this week with AgriTalk radio host Mike Adams.

Helland says the group formed a couple years ago in response to Missouri’s Proposition B, the 2010 “Puppy Mill Initiative” that narrowly passed following an aggressive campaign funded largely by out-of-state activist groups such as the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Helland says Protect the Harvest helped close the gap during the weeks leading up to the election, and nearly stopped the initiative.

Principal members of Protect the Harvest include Helland, Missouri state Senator Mike Parsons and  Forrest Lucas of Lucas Oil and Lucas Cattle Company.

Now, he says, the group is working to build support from legislators in other states and commodity groups. Saying the ag sector has been playing defense for too long, the group intends to “go on the offensive, staking out pro-business, pro-agriculture territory to protect family farms and the rural way of life from liberal activists.”

Helland notes that his district in Iowa is largely suburban, although he comes from a rural background. But, he says, many state legislators from urban and suburban districts, even in Iowa, are far removed from agriculture and food production. One of the goals of Protect the Harvest is to help educate those individuals, along with the general public, about the importance of production agriculture.

A first step, he adds, will be to call our HSUS and other groups when they go on attack. “Enough is enough,” he says, noting that activist groups will come after farmers in the legislature, through regulatory agencies and through the market by pressuring food chains restaurants to ban certain types of production. This is an assault on farmers, but also on consumers. The methods these groups advocate will reduce food production and drive food production higher, to the detriment of consumers fighting high fuel prices and struggling to recover from recession.

Learn more from the Protect the Harvest website.

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Terry Ward    
Pa.  |  April, 18, 2012 at 08:50 AM

We would LOVE to see a list of consumers who see the relationship between Golden Retrievers and pigs. And we would also love to be there when you twerps try and convince a consumer ...ANY consumer...that his/her beloved pet is 'livestock'. If you farmerwonks think that this pets-are-livestock foolishness is making you any new friends...friends which you SO obviously need these days...better think again.

April, 18, 2012 at 10:11 AM

Exactly! Pets are not livestock. And Livestock are NOT pets! They are food just like lettuce. Maybe HSUS and PETA should use their resources for the good of pets instead of their Quack ideology of making livestock pets or wild animals.

pa  |  April, 18, 2012 at 10:47 AM

Having been a member of a national dog breed club for years I can assure you rescue groups deal with any number of dogs sitting in shelters that came from even reputable breeders because of idiots who purchase a dog, spending a significant amount of dollars I might add, and then simply tire of them. It sheds, it barks, it got too big, I don't have time, etc, etc the list of excuses is endless. End result is someone too lazy to even call the breeder to take the animal back and they just dump them off at the local pound! Don't assume every farmer reading this story has no understanding of companion animals or blame every dog sitting in a shelter on a puppy mill or ignorant backyard breeder someplace because that certainly isn't the case. Have you done the math as to how many crossbred mutts sit in shelters? So much for all those responsible owners getting their pets spayed or neutered. You might want to direct your bitterness and sarcasim at the folks who give as much thought to purchasing a pet as they do to purchasing a box of Kleenex and run through them just about as quick! You also should ask your precious HSUS the last time they got out their checkbook or rolled up their sleeves to help at their local shelter. I can tell you this farmer has sure as heck puts her money and time where her mouth is.

OR  |  April, 19, 2012 at 09:53 AM

Just to be clear, city dwellers, chicken parts and meat doesn't just spring up out of nowhere into saran wrapped packages at the supermarket. They have to be raised and processed. Then you get to consume them. You can complain all you want about how we farmers do it, but I don't see any of you volunteering to do it. What oh what will you do when government has regulated us farmers out of business and there just aren't any more packages left at the supermarkets for you to consume? Will you go out and hunt and harvest your own sustenance, or will you just lay down and complain about what the government should do to fix the problem, when in fact it's the government and their regulations that have caused the shortages in the first place. So hey, city people, put your money where your mouth is. Pay those high prices. And when the food all runs out, don't come crying to us farmers about it. Talk to your legislator. He's got all your answers.

Jonathan Gilbert    
Minnesota  |  April, 19, 2012 at 01:07 PM

Just to be clear Jauko, we city dwellers, who are the vast majority of your consumers are sick of your lies and deception. Obviously our complaints are being heard ie Mc Donalds..Target..etc. So when your customers desert you don't come crying to us consumers.

Jonathan Gilbert    
Minnesota  |  April, 19, 2012 at 03:02 PM

MATT--please provide us with proof that McDonalds sources the majority of their beef vrom SA. Secondly, have you warned Smithfield that their conversion away from gestation crates into penned housing isn't true.

April, 19, 2012 at 03:25 PM

Jonathan: can you prove that it doesn't come from SA? It comes from anywhere in the world, where ever it is cheapest. As far as Smithfield, their move to pens is completely consumer driven. There will be more little piglets that die all because the mother wasn't forced into a confined space to prevent her from crushing her babies. I'd much rather see a sore on a sow's leg than see a baby pig suffocate and squeal to death. It is very sad. But the consumer wanted more room for mom. Now the blood is on HSUS' hands for all the innocent baby pigs that will die. Oh and by the way, pork price will now be higher!

April, 19, 2012 at 03:10 PM

Like lettuce, when livestock are over crowded they don't reach their growth or production potentials. When they are too over crowded, they simply get sick and die. Farming is a business and doing such practices result in lack of revenues. But what happened when HSUS brought on increased cage sizes for California poultry? Less eggs per space, no change in health, no change in size, increased cost of production which the consumer now pays. Emotions are what we in agriculture are battling, NOT facts. HSUS supporters at supplying the consumers with negative images and they are very few and far between. Their objective is to make everyone a vegetarian (google it, its spelled out on their web page and videos). We in agriculture simply want the consumer to understand their food and what it takes to supply inexpensive, safe, fresh, convenient food to those unable or willing to grow it themselves. All the radical demands of emotions will only drive the cost of food higher.

Florida  |  April, 19, 2012 at 03:39 PM

We do expect to see plenty of comments from those who have an anti-animal-use agenda OR who have very little knowledge about appropriate animal husbandry practices on farms. However, the reality is that farmers generally take good care of their do otherwise would be really stupid and uneconomical and unrealistic IF a person is seriously working on a farm.

Tom Kirby    
Shawnee, KS  |  April, 20, 2012 at 09:48 AM

I really think that the farmers are a better choice for determining what constitutes "humane." They know the animals better than anyone. Dogs were doing better as "livestock" too because then they weren't being ripped away from their owners at gunpoint so often, then warehoused by people who don't know how to care for them.

St. Louis, MO  |  April, 20, 2012 at 02:36 PM

Anyone who sticks a pig into a crate where she can't turn around isn't a farmer--they're a CAFO owner, and a corporate shill. Same for anyone who sticks thousands of birds into a dark building. These are abnormal livestock practices that came about because some idiots a few decades ago decided that "industrial" techniques are good things for farms. The more people defend these practices, the less credibility they have. Farmers that raise their livestock right need to start speaking out--no matter if their CAFO dominated farm bureau tells them to shut up.

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