Thursday, April 22, 2010

In Wayne's own words: Put farmers out of business

4/21/2010 7:49:00 PM ANDY VANCE, Agri Broadcasting Network

Sun-Tsu, the legendary military strategist so often co-opted into '80s business reading material, built his strategy around the basic premise that you must know your enemy to truly defeat him. For that reason, and to keep my blood pressure from ever dipping into the "normal" range, I read Wayne Pacelle's blog. Wayne is the CEO/Chief Lobbyist/Spokesmodel for the Humane Society (in name only) of the United States. This $200 million activist lobbying group works to raise funds by working the long con that they are some how engaged in helping animals. In so doing, they raise hundreds of millions of dollars annually that they in turn spend on lobbying and political activities to force Americans into a radicalized vegan lifestyle devoid of any animal-derived proteins or products. While they typically deny this fanatical end-goal, if you read Wayne's blog regularly, he frequently slips up and says what he actually means.

HSUS first ventured into the arena of ballot-initiative political campaigns in Florida in 2002. Their effort, to end the use of gestation stalls on hog farms, was for this "sophisticated political organization" (Wayne's self-description of HSUS) sticking their toe in the shallow end of the pool. In a multi-state, multi-year strategy, the organization has worked to step-by-step, and state-by-state drive modern agriculture and farm families out of business to drive up the cost of meat, milk, and eggs in the hopes of lowering demand for those products.

But, don't just take my word for it: "When voters approved it, it was the first restriction on a severe confinement practice in the U.S. Now, eight year later, it has achieved its principal purpose: it kept giant hog factory farms from colonizing Florida, as they did three decades ago in North Carolina."

So, in Wayne's own words, the purpose wasn't to save the pigs. HSUS' "principle purpose" was to keep hog farms out of Florida in the first place.

Some will jump to Wayne's defense and point out that he specified "giant factory farms." The problem with that faulty logic is twofold: first, that there is no plausible or meaningful definition of "giant factory farm," and second, that it assumes that factories are bad in the first place.

To understand what I mean, you have to first reject the premise of Wayne's statement: that factories are bad. After all, Wayne is telling you that "factory farms" are bad. But let's consider this: if a major manufacturer like Honda, General Motors, or Proctor & Gamble wanted to build a plant near your town, what would happen? Community leaders would roll out the red carpet, local or state development officers would work on tax abatements and incentives, and folks would jump up and down at the opportunity for more jobs! Factories produce goods and services that we as consumers need or want while generating economic activity and creating wealth for workers and shareholders. But in Wayne's invective-filled context, we are supposed to believe that if a farm is large enough to earn the "factory" smear, they no longer produce food, but instead produce evil filth and pollution.

The problem, of course, is that the United States needs all farmers to produce enough food to feed the additional 100 million Americans expected to arrive on the planet in the next forty years.

Livestock care or environmental stewardship is size-neutral. Some of the largest farmers I know are the best at both, and some of the smallest I know are among the worst. Likewise, undercover activists looking for a fight can find isolated examples of the obverse. The problem lies in the generalization needed to smear an enemy. By branding all "factory farms" as animal abusers or polluters, Wayne sets up a straw man to earn your disgust, so he can con you into giving him your donation, or your vote.

Make no mistake, however, on what Wayne actually believes: HSUS works to achieve its "principle purpose," to run livestock farmers of all stripes out of business.

Andy Vance, a native of Hillsboro, owns and operates the Agri Broadcasting Network (ABN), Ohio's Voice for Agriculture.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Supreme Court Calls Animal Cruelty Law Too Broad

by Nina Totenberg, NPR April 20, 2010

Editor's note: NPR joined other news organizations in filing a brief in this case arguing that the statute was unconstitutional.

The U.S. Supreme Court has struck down a federal law banning photos, videos and other depictions of animal cruelty.

By an 8-to-1 vote, the court said the law violates the First Amendment right of free speech.

Enacted in 1999, the law was aimed at "crush videos." These videos of women in high heels crushing small animals, like mice and kittens, are apparently a sexual fetish for some people. The law, however, has broad language. It makes it a crime to possess or sell any depiction of animal cruelty -- specifically the killing, wounding, torturing or mutilation of an animal -- if the conduct is illegal in the place where the prosecution is brought.

Enter Robert Stevens, a pit bull lover or exploiter, depending on who is telling the story. He did not make any dogfighting films or stage any fights. Instead, he compiled films made by others, films of pit bulls fighting, mainly in Japan, where it is legal. Stevens sold the films commercially. His critics said he was exploiting dogfighting for profit. He denies that, saying his videos are part of his educational work on the breed.

"My genre ... was not to sensationalize and show bloody, gory stuff," he said, explaining that he had edited out the bloody scenes, but wanted to show the "gladiator" tendencies of pit bulls.

In more than 10 years, Stevens was the only person prosecuted under the animal cruelty law. The Virginia resident was convicted in Pennsylvania and sentenced to three years in prison. But on Tuesday, the Supreme Court threw out his conviction and declared the law unconstitutional.

Writing for the eight-member court majority, Chief Justice John Roberts first tackled the government's assertion that a law can ban any category of speech if Congress deems that category not "worthy" of protection under the First Amendment guarantee of free expression. The government's assertion, said the chief justice, is "startling and dangerous."

Yes, said Roberts, the court has long held that certain categories of speech are not protected by the First Amendment -- child pornography, obscenity and fraud, for instance -- but, he said, that does not mean that the court has "freewheeling authority to declare new categories of speech outside the scope of the First Amendment."

In this case, the court continued, Congress used language of such "alarming breadth" that it would make it a crime to sell hunting videos in the District of Columbia, where hunting is illegal.

The court also said that the various exceptions Congress wrote into the law -- for "serious" scientific, journalistic or artistic work -- could not save the statute. After all, the justices said, hunting videos don't fit any of the categories protected from prosecution, since these videos are generally considered "entertainment."

The court declined to say whether Congress could in the future write a statute that would be sufficiently targeted at crush videos. But Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States, is urging Congress to try.

"We really do believe that Congress can find a way to pass a law that forbids illegal acts of animal cruelty and that will pass constitutional muster," Pacelle said. He said Congress could specifically exempt hunting and fishing from the animal cruelty ban.

But hunting and fishing enthusiasts, like Laurie Lee Dovey, executive director of the Professional Outdoor Media Association, are doubtful that would be enough.

"I don't believe there can be" such a law, Dovey said. "We must in America rely on our First Amendment rights to speak freely and to discuss things that are not comfortable to discuss. That's what makes us America."

The lone dissenter in Tuesday's ruling was Justice Samuel Alito, who charged that the "practical effect" of the court's ruling would be to legalize "a form of depraved entertainment."

The court's decision not only stuck down a law enacted by Congress, but it also delivered a rather pointed rebuke to two individuals. First, Solicitor General Elena Kagan, a top contender for the U.S. Supreme Court, whose brief on behalf of the Obama administration was thoroughly repudiated in the strongest terms.

Gene Schaerr, who filed a brief on the other side for the libertarian Cato Institute, said if Kagan supervised the writing of the brief she signed, "I would agree that it does seem to raise questions about her judgment."

The other loser was former federal prosecutor Mary Beth Buchanan, now a Republican candidate for Congress in Pennsylvania. Her decision to bring the Stevens case, the court said, was evidence the government could not be trusted to act responsibly.

Related article: Amicus Briefs filed in United States v. Stevens

Monday, April 12, 2010

4-H The Latest Battleground Over Animal Care

04/11/2010 by By Gary Truitt, Hoosier Ag Today

The 4-H program is one of the best youth leadership development organizations in the world. Now I admit I am biased, being a 4H leader and having two of my children go through the program. So I guess that is why my green clover turned red when I learned that the National 4-H organization had climbed in bed with one of the most radical and insidious animal rights organizations in the country. Furthermore, when this issue came to light and the farm community expressed outrage, the National leadership refused to back down. This continued association has allowed the Humane Society of the United States to use the name and reputation of 4-H to advance its radical agenda. Despite demands from local and state 4-H leaders, the national organization has turned a deaf ear to the interests and concerns of agriculture.

During the National 4-H Congress in Washington last month, a breakout session was held on animal care. That is not unusual, but the sponsoring organization certainly was. HSUS and American agriculture are locked in a pitched battle on the local, state, and national levels over the future of animal agriculture. So, to have them involved with an organization like 4-H, with deep roots in farming, does not smell right. At the end of the session, the 25 youth that participated in the workshop were provided with resource material that included HSUS propaganda. The 35-page HSUS Mission Humane Action Guide, which encourages youth to set up animal protection clubs and devotes pages to researching animal issues, “making your voice heard,” and raising funds. If you throw a party, the material suggests showing videos from the HSUS Web site and serving vegan refreshments. And just about every page plugs information available on the HSUS Web site. “You’ll also learn about lobbying, one of the most effective ways of making change for animals,” says the guide’s message from CEO Wayne Pacelle.

When word of this event began to leak out in the ag media, the reaction was quick and virulent. Instead of admitting they had made a seriously bad mistake, the National 4-H organization defended their association with HSUS, “The workshop was approved by the planning committee because the proposal aligned with the goals of the 4-H conference and did not present any indication of anti-animal agriculture views or positions.” Leaders on the state and local levels took strong exception with the position of the national office. OSU Extension Director Keith Smith issued a statement April 2 saying Ohio’s 4-H program was “very distressed that this happened at a national 4-H event,” and that the Ohio 4-H organization had expressed that dismay to the 4-H National Headquarters and USDA-NIFA, “The primary concern about this distribution is that HSUS is well known for its anti-animal agriculture views and positions, and 4-H has a long tradition of providing education in the animal sciences, which includes the dimension of positive animal welfare.” Individuals blasted the National 4-H Facebook fan page with even stronger statements. One poster called it an “irresponsible decision.”
Full story ...

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Ohio Gov. names Livestock Care Standards Board

Tuesday, April 6, 2010 Farm and Dairy

COLUMBUS — Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland signed the legislation making the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board a reality March 31, and on April 6 he announced his 10 appointments to the board.

The governor’s appointments include: Tony Forshey, Leon Weaver, Jeff Wuebker, Bobby Moser, Jeffrey LeJeune, Harold Dates, Jerry Lahmers, Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, Robert Cole, and Stacey Atherton.

Forshey currently serves as the state veterinarian for the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

Weaver, of Montpelier, serves as the owner and operator of Bridgewater Dairy. He also serves as a member of the board of directors for the Ohio Livestock Coalition and the Ohio Dairy Industry Forum. He previously served as the president of the Ohio Dairy Industry Forum and as a professor at the University of California’s Veterinarian Medicine School. Weaver received a and a doctorate of veterinary medicine from the University of Pennsylvania in 1971.

Wuebker, of Versailles, has served as the co-owner of Wuebker Farms since 2001. He also serves as the president of the Ohio Soybean Association and is a member of the Ohio Corn Growers Association and the Ohio Cattleman’s Association.

He received a bachelor’s degree from the Ohio State University in 1993.

Moser is vice president for agricultural administration and the dean of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at the Ohio State University since 1991.

LeJeune, of Wooster, is an associate professor for Food and Animal Health at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center at the Ohio State University. He also serves as the chair of the Agriculture Animal Care and Use Committee at the Ohio State University. He received a bachelor’s degree from the Universite de Moncton and a doctorate of veterinary medicine from the University of Prince Edward Island. LeJeune also received a Ph.D. from Washington State University in 2000.

Dates, of Cincinnati, has served as the president and CEO of the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Cincinnati since 1986.

Jerry Lahmers, of Newcomerstown, currently owns and operates a family farm that includes a cow/calf feedlot and grain operations. He previously served as a veterinarian who treated and cared for animals in Tuscarawas County for 29 years.

Hamler-Fugitt, of Reynoldsburg, currently serves as the executive director of the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks. She previously served as the public policy director and the statewide food and nutrition program coordinator for the Ohio Hunger Task Force.

Cole, of Gahanna, served in various roles for the USDA for over 33 years, including serving as the executive director of the USDA’s Franklin County Office and as acting state director in 2003. He retired from the U.S Department of Agriculture in 2003 and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. at the University of Dayton.

Atherton, of Newark, has served as the co-owner for Shipley Farms since 2009. She previously served as a manager for Shipley Farms from 2006-2009. She received a bachelor’s degree from the Ohio State University in 2006

In addition to the governor’s appointments, Ohio Department of Agriculture Director Robert Boggs serves on the 13-member board, as well a selection from both the House Speaker and Senate President.

Senate President Bill Harris has named Bill Moody, of Knox County, former deputy director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and family farmer.

Monday, April 5, 2010

4-H catching heat for HSUS presentation

It is appalling to learn that 4-H opened their doors to HSUS. How can 4-H leaders be unaware of the massive attack by HSUS on animal ownership?

April 5, 2010 by Ken Anderson Brownfield Ag News

The national 4-H organization is catching heat for allowing the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to make a presentation at the National 4-H Conference in late March.

The focus of the conference’s workshops was supposed to be civic engagement, community service and youth volunteerism. However, some of those who sat in on the HSUS presentation say the material was more focused on HSUS’ goals related to animal rights and animal welfare.

Many state 4-H organizations are scrambling to separate themselves from the controversy. For example, the Kansas 4-H Youth Development Program has issued a statement emphasizing it does not agree with the values supported by HSUS.

In a statement posted on its Facebook page, the national 4-H organization defended its decision, saying that HSUS’ proposal for a workshop presentation met the guidelines set for the conference. It says the HSUS workshop was approved by the planning committee, quote, “because the proposal aligned with the goals of the 4-H Conference and did not present any indication of anti-animal agriculture views or positions.”