via Hereford World Magazine
by Craig Huffhines, Executive Vice President, American Hereford Association
When you hear the words factory farming, what does that mean to you? If you were to define traditional beef cattle management practices, would any of those practices cause stress or cruelty to an animal? For those of us who have grown up on beef cattle farms and ranches, we acknowledge that some of our practices
inevitably induce stress, but none of the things we do are perceived by us as cruel or unusual treatment to livestock. After all, Dad and Granddad taught us that this was the way it is supposed to be done, but to others there are far different perceptions.
Political pressure built from “full-courtpress” lobbying, massive promotion and campaign contributions to legislative activists, and media blitzes is influencing a growing number of public sympathizers as it relates to humane handling. This movement is coming from a deep-pocketed organization that can and does influence the opinions of governmentthought leaders. That’s been the recipe of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).
During the last decade, HSUS, the world’s largest animal advocacy group with reported assets of $160 million, has influenced agriculture legislation across the country. It is not just about dog and cat shelters as HSUS television commercials would have you believe. The organization has influenced legislators by convincing them that certain common animal handling and management practices are inhumane. The ultimate goal of HSUS is to eliminate or at least
reduce the consumption of meat and other animal-based foods and products.
Wayne Pacelle, HSUS CEO, openly announces his intentions from his HSUS blog. “The HSUS promotes eating with conscience and embracing the three Rs — reducing the consumption of meat and other animalbased foods; refining the diet by avoiding products from the worst production systems (e.g., switching to cage-free eggs); and replacing meat and other animal-based foods in the diet with plant-based foods.”
Pacelle goes on to write, “The HSUS is a big tent organization, and we support people who want to switch to more humanely
raised animal products, reduce the amount of meat in their diets, or try a vegetarian lifestyle — but the reduction of meat consumption is one of the best things we can do for the planet given how unsustainable the current levels of factory farming are.”
The HSUS’s underlying mission is where the battle will be fought. The perfect example of this is the dramatic negative impact upon the equine industry that the U.S. horse slaughter ban has had.
Our challenge as beef producers and Hereford breeders is to define, scientifically justify and articulate our common management practices in an effort to get ahead of the HSUS machine. A sound defense of our management practices with
creative promotion in an aggressive, carefully crafted and understandable way may, at a minimum, cause those that are not in the know to question restrictive regulations that could force us out of business. This is not an appealing or interesting conversation, but it is a fact of life that threatens the very core of our business.
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