Editor's note: This article has been modified from its original version.
Much can be learned in life and politics by looking beyond the political rhetoric and reading between the lines. Wayne Pacelle, the president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), has made his intentions clear. He’s politically astute enough to say it in a way that’s politically palatable and couches HSUS attacks on animal agriculture as a battle against so-called factory farming.
You have to listen carefully but he is very clear that HSUS intends “to transform agriculture and the way consumers think about and consume food.” I translate that as meaning no animal production, though I think he’s willing to accept a much smaller industry as an interim step. HSUS argues livestock production isn’t environmentally sustainable, and is immoral and inhumane, and blames factory farming for contributing to nearly every ill in America.
HSUS is extremely sophisticated in its attacks, and attacks on many fronts. It uses legislation and public policy where possible; the judicial system to sue people into submission; has a huge public relations machine to blackmail businesses to fall in line; and effectively wields the ballot initiative to circumvent the legislative and judicial branches when those avenues fail them.
HSUS advocates for vegetarianism and works to shape general public opinion using a well-coordinated and planned effort. The organization also takes a long view, acknowledging that while changing the opinions of mature Americans might not be possible, children are fertile ground for indoctrination.
Being one of the biggest players in what has become a multi-billion dollar activist industry, the top HSUS priority will likely always be to increase funding. And in this regard, no person has been more effective than Pacelle. It’s ironic that most who donate don’t understand what programs their dollars support or how they’ll be used.
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Our industry will never have the dollars of HSUS and the other activist groups, but our biggest advantage may be that these groups are committed to the slow demise of our industry. They need a significant industry to oppose in order to keep the dollars flowing in.
Perhaps no tactic has been more effective for HSUS than its efforts to appear to partner with agriculture. As Pacelle says, “The kind of change we are seeking won’t happen overnight.” We should pay attntion to the words of HSUS. It is committed to our destruction; and while politically astute, the group is also unapologetic.
The opinions of Troy Marshall are not necessarily those of Penton or the Farm Progress Group.
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