Speak Your Piece: What Hasn’t the HSUS Done Lately?

[imgbelt img=ben27.jpg]The U.S. didn’t lose 91% of its pork producers, 82% of its dairy producers, 42% of its beef producers and 33% of its sheep producers overnight. It has happened by degrees since 1980, during my lifetime, and isn’t going to be slowed down, stopped, or even partially “fixed” in less than a year.


[imgcontainer left] [img:ben27.jpg] [source] Timmy Samuel

Nebraska rancher Ben Gotschall

In a recent column entitled “Waiting for the HSUS,” Daily Yonder co-editor Bill Bishop issued a not-so-subtle challenge to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to prove to him, and apparently to everyone else, that HSUS is working proactively to benefit independent farmers and ranchers.  

Clearly, Mr. Bishop is not satisfied with the progress, or (as he sees it) the lack thereof, in the market creation aspect of the HSUS’s new approach of working with ag groups and producers.

As I see it, the question should not be whether or not Mr. Bishop is satisfied with the HSUS’s efforts at this point, but whether or not farmers and ranchers are satisfied, namely those who have been directly working with HSUS. After all, they’re the ones with the most at stake in all this, aside from organizations like the Nebraska Farmers Union that support them.  

Those producers and organizations are the ones under the intense scrutiny, and in some cases under the direct attack, from other producers, ag groups, armchair quarterbacks and backseat drivers waiting in the wings to pounce when they smell blood.   

From what I can see, as someone intimately involved in the issue, those producers, at least in Nebraska, are extremely satisfied with HSUS’s involvement.

Just last week, not long after Bishop’s column was posted, the Nebraska Agriculture Advisory Council to the HSUS released a video discussing their outlook and goals.  The Ag Council published the video on YouTube, the HSUS website, Facebook and the Nebraska Farmers Union website.  

Seems pretty public to me.  Seems like a group of committed individuals who believe enough in what they do for a living to step up and say something about it—again, in a public forum.  

But, to be fair to Mr. Bishop, those producers aren’t HSUS representatives.  His question yet remains: what has the HSUS, as an organization, done to help folks like those featured in the Ag Council video?

Maybe a more instructive question to ask would be: what hasn’t the HSUS done in the past 10 months? 

They haven’t threatened to kick the asses of perceived opponents out of the state of Nebraska.  That was what Nebraska’s Governor Dave Heineman has done, on more than one occasion.

They haven’t siphoned $100,000 from the state’s coffers into a front group established to directly attack its perceived opponents.  That was Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning and his sweetheart gift to We Support Agriculture. 

They haven’t introduced ag-gag legislation to specifically target those who might (God forbid) observe and report practices currently taking place on operations that violate the animal-treatment standards established on those same operations.  That was Nebraska State Sen. Tyson Larson, with LB 915, a bill eerily similar to one passed in Iowa in February 2012, which is an obvious paraphrase of bills proposed in Missouri, Utah, Indiana, Minnesota and Illinois.  I wonder who wrote them (or should I say it)?

HSUS hasn’t unleashed a ballot initiative in the state of Nebraska to regulate agricultural practices through legislation, in keeping with its agreement with Nebraska Farmers Union.