This week there was a story on meatingplace.com that detailed how the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) had partnered with surveymonkey.com. As a result, HSUS was receiving about $400,000 annually from this electronic survey service that most of us have probably used at one time or another.
I’ve never paid surveymonkey.com anything, so I haven’t indirectly contributed to HSUS. But it seems that every time you turn around you find out HSUS is getting money from people who aren’t aware of what or whom they are donating to. Of course, from a livestock industry perspective that is a little disconcerting.
I’m not advocating straddling the ethical lines that HSUS does in its revenue raising. I still firmly believe that most people who donate to HSUS believe they’re helping pets find a home, and get food or shelter. I don’t believe HSUS could ever collect the millions of dollars in funding it receives if it didn’t lie and manipulate its donor base.
With that said, let me say this about ranchers. We actually do feed a starving world, we actually maintain open space, we actually improve the environment, improve wildlife habitat, and help maintain and sustain rural America. If the American people were honestly told what the average American cattlemen does on a daily basis – and what HSUS does – I honestly believe that ranchers could be the recipients of the lion’s share of those dollars.
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HSUS understands a very important concept; which is, with the majority of American consumers no longer connected to farming and ranching, their perception of the beef business and its people can be shaped regardless of the actual facts. The key to shaping that perception is dollars – dollars spent on lobbying, media, legal fights, and raising more dollars. I’d never recommend adopting the tactics of lying and deceit, but HSUS understands that dollars matter in this battle. Thus, we spend too much time worrying about improving the environment and feeding the world, while HSUS is focused on raising more money.
There are far fewer people who share HSUS’s vision than ours. In fact, if HSUS adopted our model, it would be honest with its messaging, and solicit funding from only those passionate about that vision. HSUS won’t do that, however, because the organization would be out of business in a matter of weeks.
HSUS is a revenue-generating behemoth that raises millions upon millions of dollars under false pretenses. Meanwhile, we quietly go about our work trying to advance commonly held goals with an industry-based model that groups like HSUS hope we’ll never reject.
But you have to ask yourself why our industry persists under the illusion that we can fight this battle alone, simply because of the rightness of our message. Our founding fathers were convinced in their cause. Yet, when they declared their independence, they got help, and it came from France no less. Perhaps we should follow their example and seek out allies.
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