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.