A South Dakota reader, Nancy Ogle, recently sent me some information about an upcoming event coming to our state. It's called the South Dakota Humane Lobby Day 2011 hosted, by the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS), which will be held Feb. 15, 2011 at the South Dakota State Capitol. Sometimes, it's easy to feel that the threat of HSUS is an isolated one, only happening in other states, never your own. You may be surprised that in the months of January and February, HSUS is going to be very busy and will be stopping in Alabama, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Washington, Tennessee, Mississippi, Indiana, Montana, Colorado, North Carolina, Nebraska and Massachusetts. It certainly looks like HSUS isn't taking a break in 2011.
To give you an idea of what HSUS will be doing in your state, here is the invitation they sent to South Dakotans:
“Think only professional lobbyists can lobby? Think again! HSUS invites our members and supporters to participate in the South Dakota Humane Lobby Day in Pierre, and help make a tremendous difference for animals. This is an exciting opportunity to meet directly with your elected officials and their staff about legislation that will significantly impact animals. We will gather in the Presidents & Speakers Lobbies for a reception beginning at 8:30 a.m. There will be a briefing with tips for lobbying, and an overview of pending animal legislation, which will prepare you to meet your elected officials and advocate for animals.”
So, do you think farmers and ranchers need to be in attendance to balance out the conversation? You bet we do! The time for proactive agriculture advocacy is greater now than ever before. We need more than your science-based reasoning for your best animal-handling practices; we need your emotional stories. Our elected officials need to hear about you feeding cattle in blizzards and saving newborn calves during calving season. They need to learn about our family-based operations and how everyone, from the youngest to the oldest, is involved in caring for the animals on a daily basis. They need to be reminded of the rich history of the American cowboy. Most importantly, our elected officials need to meet you and shake your hand. All it takes is a first impression to have a lasting impact on their future decisions. What kind of impression do we want to make?
Rally the troops and get organized. HSUS is coming to lobby at a state near you. Are we going to stand on the sidelines and let them tell our story? Or, are we going to be there to reclaim our legacy and tell our own stories?