Last month, the Animal Agriculture Alliance reached out to Bank of America with concerns about its public support of Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) and asked the company to sever its ties to the extreme animal rights group. The bank indicated it would not discontinue its HSUS affinity card program, so the Alliance has made the decision to end its relationship with its bank of 25 years.
Bank of America’s agribusiness executive emphasized in a phone conversation with Alliance CEO Kay Johnson Smith that the affinity card program with HSUS was not new and that HSUS received no preferential treatment. He also emphasized his long-time connections with agriculture and his sincere commitment to supporting agriculture through numerous sponsorships, research and service.
Bank of America does not consider the $60 from each affinity card as a donation, but rather a “fee” paid to HSUS (and other affinity program participants) for bringing in new clients, he says. When told that HSUS spends a great deal of money on disparaging campaigns, as well as legislative and legal attacks against farmers and ranchers, while spending spends less than 1% on direct animal care, he said he recognized that statistic. He then discounted it by saying people believe HSUS helps animals and they enjoy having a card with cats and dogs on it.
Ironically, the bank’s representative specifically pointed out that the most critical issue right now for agriculture is the constant pressure on people in the food business.
After this conversation and careful consideration, the Alliance has decided to terminate its relationship with Bank of America. The Alliance cannot continue a business relationship with companies that are contributing financially to extreme animal rights organizations that seek to eliminate the animal agriculture industry. The Alliance appreciates the support of its members and others in the agricultural community who took action on this issue. Thanks to those who voiced their concerns to Bank of America via social media, phone conversations, and mail. The Alliance will continue to speak up for America’s farmers and ranchers who continue to provide us with a safe, healthy, and affordable food supply.