Those of you Farm Bleat readers who also read the Daily Globe will notice a story in today’s edition regarding the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and its attack on animal agriculture.
It was the subject of a program offered Thursday morning at the International Poultry Expo here in Atlanta, Ga., and continued to be discussed throughout the day between those of us who attended.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t write about everything during the presentation – it lasted for nearly two hours – but I would like to use this blog to talk a little bit more about HSUS and the concerns our Minnesota farmers have regarding their propaganda.
Obviously, for me to use the word propaganda, you must realize that I don’t think very highly of the PETA people and other animal activists. My perception of them is that they know absolutely nothing about raising pigs, they can’t tell the difference between a dairy cow and a dairy goat and they wouldn’t have the slightest idea on how to properly hold a chicken.
Then again, they probably think I’m just a stupid farmer’s daughter. Apparently they think that of everyone who choses to live on a farm and work hard for a living.
Dr. Wes Jamison, associate professor of communications for Palm Beach Atlantic University, presented some rather interesting statistics regarding HSUS and the lengths they are going to in order to stop animal agriculture.
State by state, they are spending millions of dollars in lawsuits and lobbying efforts to get propositions passed. In Ohio, they were behind a proposition to end the caging of poultry. In Arizona, they were the instigators in getting farrowing crates banned. And in California, they may single-handedly destroy the poultry industry within a matter of a couple years.
But what about Minnesota? Is HSUS coming here?
The answer is yes. In fact, some of HSUS’s top officials have already visited with representation from Minnesota Farm Bureau.
John Zimmerman, a turkey, corn and soybean producer from Northfield and fellow MSR&PC See For Yourself mission trip participant, said it’s just a matter of time.
"In the last few years, we’ve seen more activity on the HSUS front," Zimmerman said. "We know they’re going to start coming into Minnesota."
What’s their agenda? Well, among the Minnesota farmers on the SFY mission, talk is that they want to end tail docking in the dairy industry. In Minnesota, approximately 80 percent of dairies have implemented tail docking in their cow herds as a means to improve sanitation.
Tails tend to get filled with mud during the spring thaw and summer rains. Cows don’t like the way those clumps feel on the end of their tail, so they swing them to knock the dirt loose. Those tails not only hit their hips and their rear udders, they also hit the automatic milkers and other sterile equipment used in milking parlors.
For dairy farmers, tail docking makes economic sense. Without the worry of mud getting into equipment, they have fewer worries about somatic cell counts being impacted, and the price dock that comes with higher bacteria levels.
There are other issues besides tail docking. Minnesota producers also use farrowing crates and poultry cages, both of which could come under attack.
In his presentation, Jamison said farmers need to band together and develop a common message. Whether that’s to counter-act HSUS and hand out T-shirts that say "I Love Meat," or to develop a positive media campaign that engages America’s consumers in the animal industry, farmers can no longer afford to sit back and stay quiet.
American agriculture … Minnesota agriculture … needs a strong voice.