I should have known better.
Did I really think the Humane Society of the United States would leave Ohio farmers alone after voters spoke soundly at the polls in favor of a livestock care standards board? Did I really think Wayne Pacelle, HSUS CEO, would admit defeat and simply turn his attention and money to a weaker farm state?
No, I guess not, and so, ready or not, here they come.
The Humane Society of the United States, I remind you, is NOT affiliated with local or county humane societies that shelter unwanted pets, or promote spay and neuter programs. It has a stated goal, one of its Three Rs, of “replacing meat and other animal-based foods in the diet with plant-based foods.” In other words, the “humane” in HSUS means the activists believe there is no “humane” treatment of meat-producing animals. Period.
Unhappy with the outcome of Ohio’s Issue 2, HSUS’ Pacelle has declared the group will wage its own ballot initiative in the Buckeye State, saying the livestock care standards board was “cooked up” to block real reform (meaning the HSUS’ definition of reform).
He said details are forthcoming, and called on Ohioans to help gather the 400,000 valid signatures required to get the issue back on the ballot. And he’ll probably want your money, too, saying “we’ll need a major effort to reach voters in Ohio with our message of sound science and basic values.”
Like the old song goes, “People get ready.”
Get ready for lots of TV ads that show images of abused farm animals as if it was a common scene on your farm.
Get ready for celebrities to lend their voices to the HSUS cause here in Ohio. (Some of us are old enough to remember Meryl Streep and Alar in 1989, or Oprah and her beef brouhaha in 1996.)
Get ready for a targeted message to urban residents, who are likely to know the least about today’s agriculture and livestock production.
Get ready to hear the phrase “factory farm” leveled at your family farm.
Patti Strand, director of the National Animal Interest Alliance, calls it “Defamation for Dollars,” and says HSUS is not above deceiving the public into voting away the welfare of animals.
HSUS is saying “forget the board consensus, we know what’s best for Ohio consumers and farmers.” If you believe that, I’ve got some ocean-front property in Columbiana County, Ohio, I’d like you to see.
If you were part of the silent majority who quietly supported Issue 2, you’re going to have to stretch your comfort zone and share your story. Practice explaining why you do what you do in 60 second or less — your own mini sound-bite, if you will. Think about how your story would sound to someone who knows nothing about farming.
The next 12 months will be critical for Ohio agriculture. We need to get the legislation for the new board; we need to seat the new board, and the new board needs to kick it into gear with meaningful dialogue with all sides.
We also need to get ready for the coming HSUS battle. Their war chest is deep and their p.r. machine is slick. Issue 2 was a cake walk compared to what’s coming.
Bring it on.
By Susan Crowell