State ag leaders summit draws heated words for Humane Society

By Sara Wyant

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

WASHINGTON, January 11, 2012 -The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is anti-agriculture and attempting to destroy the industry in Nebraska, said that state's governor, Dave Heineman, during the State Ag and Rural Leaders (SARL) 2012 Legislative Agriculture Chairs Summit in Washington, D.C. Saturday. Passions ran high among agricultural leaders that have dealt with what they say is the organization's dangerous political agenda “hidden under subliminal messages for cats and dogs.”

“Simple truth is, you can't trust HSUS,” said Heineman. You better be passionate and you better be emotional if you're going to win this fight. When you're willing to stand up, the agriculture community, the business community, the average citizen is going to follow your lead.”

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According to Protect the Harvest, a Web site and anti-HSUS campaign supported by farm groups, the society specifically threatens farmers and ranchers because it is, “at its heart, a vegan organization opposed to any consumption of animals for food, clothes or research.”

Meanwhile, seven members of Congress last year requested the Inspector General of the Treasury and IRS to investigate the HSUS's “apparent improper activities and its 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status.” In a line-by-line review of HSUS's 2008 budget report, the letter asserted that less than a half-percent of the organization's $99.8 million went toward humane pet sheltering.

“Lobbying is not only a substantial part of HSUS's overall activities; it often appears to be the main reason for HSUS's existence,” states a letter seeking the investigation and signed by Reps. Blaine Luetkemeyer, Sam Graves, Don Young, Vicky Hartzler, Jo Ann Emerson and Bill Long. Indiana Rep. Pete Visclosky later joined others on the letter.

During the weekend's Legislative Agriculture Chairs Summit, Bob Krouse, chairman of United Egg Producers (UEP), discussed the UEP's agreement with HSUS to amend the Egg Inspection Act. “We are committed to working together for the good of the hens in our care and believe a national standard is far superior than a patchwork of state laws and regulations that would be cumbersome for our customers and confusing to consumers,” said Krouse.

However, the agreement to introduce a national standard for increased chicken cage sizes was criticized by other legislators at the summit as an unnecessary concession.

“Once you compromise with them, they'll just keep asking for more and more and more,” said Heineman. “Don't be intimidated by HSUS because that is how they work. No deals, no compromises. We don't need some (Washington) DC special interest group telling us how to take care of our animals.”

Ohio State Veterinarian Tony Forshey touted his state's approach to regulations through the Ohio Livestock Coalition, which represents myriad of Ohio commodities, and Ohio Livestock Care Standards, which helps create standards for Ohio's 45,000 livestock and poultry farms.

“I think our laws in Ohio will fit pretty much all of the Midwest,” Forshey said. “These standards are going to keep our farmers in business.”

In November 2009, Ohioans passed State Issue 2, a constitutional amendment requiring that the State of Ohio establish comprehensive livestock care standards. Since then, the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board was created to obtain public input and recommend guidelines for the Ohio Department of Agriculture to adopt as rules under the authority of the Director of Agriculture and State Veterinarian.

Forshey also spoke out against HSUS, claiming that while society representatives were present at almost every one of the Ohio livestock board meetings, board procedure prevented burdensome intervention from the activist group. He emphasized that the Ohio Livestock Coalition includes all commodity groups that allows Ohio agriculture to speak with one voice. “HSUS is very good at fragmenting commodity groups,” he added.



Original story printed in January 11, 2012 Agri-Pulse Newsletter.

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