WALDO, Ohio — In a packed banquet hall, fresh from the naming of the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board members, a group gathered to talked about animal well-being and the increasing role of animal rights activists groups.
The Ohio Livestock Coalition annual meeting and industry symposium gives farm leaders from across Ohio perspectives from state and national farm leaders.
Threat to agriculture
David Martosko, director of research at the nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom and a native Ohioan, discussed the role of the Humane Society of the United States and the threat the organization poses to the agriculture community.
“You’re at war with this so-called humane society, whether or not you want to be,” Martosko said. “HSUS is basically PETA with a nicer wristwatch.
“It’s ultimately not going to be enough to tell Ohioans the truth about who you are,” he added. “Someone has to tell the public the truth about your enemies, too. If HSUS’ leaders were honest about their objectives, hardly any Americans would send them money.”
He said the difference between the two organizations is rather simple: brand marketing.
“PETA is HSUS,” Martosko said.
He added the HSUS is a humane society in name only.
“Wayne Pacelle (president and CEO of HSUS) wants to reduce animal agriculture and will use any tool to get there,” Martosko said.
War, not battle
He added it will be an endless war with HSUS because it will be impossible to fully pacify any animal rights group.
However, Martosko said those involved in animal agriculture need to fight back by increasing the public perception of agriculture and lowering the perception of HSUS and PETA.
“Tell the truth about HSUS,” Martosko said. He encouraged farmers to explain to the public where the organization spends its money and other facts that are easily found on the Internet.
He added the HSUS is the scariest threat to ever face agriculture producers.
“Either you believe in farming or you don’t. Either you are willing to defend it or you are not,” Martosko told the crowd.
American Humane Association
American Humane Association chairman David Geis and Tim Amlaw, vice president of the American Humane Certified farm animal program, shared the organization’s commitment to helping Ohio’s new Livestock Care Standards Board establish science-based auditing, education and operations practices.
The American Humane Certified Program has guidelines farms must follow to be certified and uses a scientific advisory committee to help establish the guidelines.
The organization certifies over 50 farms in Ohio, mainly egg layer farms.
An auditing process is used for the certification process and all auditors have an agriculture background.
Online and on-site training is provided to the farm and its employees.
The organization also discussed how the certification program works for marketing the farm as well. It represents to buyers what the live side standards are for raising the livestock and lets the buyer (ex. McDonald’s) know that they are just as important as the after life.
The American Humane Certification program looks at critical control points in farming such as the bird health (egg layer), feed availability, access to water and available space to the birds such as the flooring used, perch availability and dust system.
The group also said video monitoring systems is becoming very popular, with 300 in use so far on farms.
Amlaw said it is important for the organization to stand behind science.
“What’s good for animals, is good for people and it’s good for business,” Amlaw said.
He added the organization uses science but acknowledged it changes and an organizations standards have to change along with it.
Amlaw said the regulations of the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board will have to be a “living document,” meaning changes will have to made for producers and animals as new science comes out in the future.