Last week, I attended a feedlot seminar that focused on summer bunk management, water issues and beef quality. In addition to these topics, I was happily surprised to see that the South Dakota Cooperative Extension Service felt it was important to warn producers about the threat of animal rights activists, specifically the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS). While the Extension Service works as an information-gathering base for producers, it's not often they speak out on political issues, but livestock specialist and Extension educator Jim Krantz explained this issue to the attendees at the feedlot meeting. Read on to learn what he had to say.
“HSUS is not a real Humane Society; it’s not associated with pet shelters anywhere,” explained Krantz. “HSUS gives less than one-half of one percent of its $100-million budget to hands-on pet shelters. Yet, $2.5 million of Americans’ donations went to pay HSUS employee pension plans."
Despite the ugly reputation HSUS is slowly earning, 83% of Americans have a favorable view of HSUS, according to HumaneWatch.org, a website working to expose the animal rights organization for its deceitful use of goodwill donations. What's worse, one in four Americans believe animals deserve the same rights as people.
“I think it’s important to distinguish between animal rights and animal welfare,” said Krantz. “Animal welfare, by definition, is the humane treatment of animals, while animal rights is the belief that animals should have the same rights and be treated the same as humans. As beef producers, I think we all agree with the terms of animal welfare, and we work hard to take care of our animals. It’s imperative, as cattle producers, to be aware of organizations like HSUS, who are working to put us out of business. We all have our jobs to do, but we can’t ignore this big issue."
If animal rights groups were to focus on specific animal-handling practices on farms and ranches, Krantz asked attendees whiche management practices they might approach differently. Euthanasia, dehorning and castration were the top three handling practices producers mentioned. Others were mud, housing and disposal, but many producers said they wouldn't change anything.
It's no longer a secret to us that HSUS is a well-oiled machine working to put us out of business, and I was definitely impressed that our Extension educators are spreading the word at the beef meetings they conduct on a regular basis. However, they did bring up another interesting point I would like to discuss today -- what might you do differently on your operation if an outside group was looking in? Are you comfortable with all your practices, or would you take a closer look at your dehorning and castrating practices? Let's debate this topic today. You know the drill: leave your thoughts in the comments section below. Thanks for your participation!