Educating the public about animal activists and encouraging farmers to pay attention to what has happened in other states already, was the main focus of a meeting held recently by the Oregon County Farm Bureau.
Kelly Smith, director of maketing and commodities for Missouri Farm Bureau, said the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is getting signatures on a petition to place dog breeding limitations on the November ballet so that owners of these businesses cannot have more than 50 dogs for breeding purposes. Smith said the HSUS is using photos of puppy mills, in horrible conditions to get the public to join this movement and donate money. He said Missouri has been targeted by HSUS because Missouri is among the top dog breeders in the United States.
According to the Missouri Federation of Animal Owners Web site, the ballot measure is sponsored by animal rights groups: Humane Society of United States (HSUS), American Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), Humane Society of Missouri and Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation, The HSUS (Humane Society of the United States) has filed with the Secretary of State a ballot measure titled "Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act" against dog breeders to be presented on the November 2010 ballot for a vote of the people of the state of Missouri. It applies to breeders with 10 or more intact female dogs, limits the number of breeding female dogs to 50 per kennel, limits breeding to no more than twice in any eighteen-month period, requires daily exercise, veterinary care for any injury or illness, and requires controlled temperatures not to exceed 85 degrees or fall below 45 degrees. Facility and pen size requirements far exceed that which legal, licensed breeders currently must have to be in compliance with state and federal laws. Many of the requirements are virtually cost prohibitive when allowing only 50 breeding dogs maximum for generating income.
Smith said this is only the beginning of a campaign that will set regulations on all animal agriculture. "Those of us in agriculture livestock production had better pay attention to what's happening," he said. "This is a very, very important issue and quite frankly, we've faced a lot of challenges, but this issue, is not just an agricultural issue, it's a grain farmer issue, anybody that eats across the nation, this is an issue for them, too."
Smith said animal activist groups are responsible for shepherding laws in at least six states to ban cramped cages for farm animals and persuaded some of the country's largest fast-food restaurants and retailers to make a gradual switch to cage-free eggs. "They are also trying to get our school systems to have at least one meatless meal a week," he said.
"In their advertising, which usually runs in larger metrotroplian areas, they don't just show the pictures we've seen of poor abused cats and dogs, they add horses, and animals in the food chain such as cows, pigs and hens."
Smith said that most of these activists are far removed from what actually takes place in agriculture. "Some people are so many generations from the farm that those people think that milk comes from a plastic jug. They have no concept of what it takes to produce food and crops in the United States."
"Those in agriculture don't want to abuse our animals in any way. If we did we'd be hurting ourselves first of all, profitablity, and we love our animals too much. We take care of them. We go out in extreme cold and storms to protect them and we wouldn't be doing all that if we were harming that animal," Smith said. "We've adopted a lot of technology that makes it easier to raise livestock and crops to feed this country. But a lot of people don't know that. Some aren't even aware of animal husbandry -- the branch of agriculture concerned with the care and breeding of domestic animals such as cattle, hogs, sheep and horses."
"Let me make one thing clear," Smith said. "The local animal shelters who take care of abandoned animals and such in local communities are not the same thing as the HSUS. These shelters offer spay and nueter clinics and work to find homes for animals. There may be people at these shelters who support the HSUS, but these shelters don't use disceptive practices to raise money for other issues, other agendas. These local shelters use all their money to help these animals, not to further an agenda that raises money through desception."
Smith said when it comes to animal activists there are three lines of thought that ultimately achieve the same goal -- that animals and humans all have the same rights; animals should not be used for anything including food, clothing or companionship; and that animals and humans are equal, that there is no difference between animal and human life.
Smith said animal activists do not play by the normal rules of engagement. "Anything goes, and I mean anything," he said. "They are deceptive by design. If they were not deceptive, they would not get the money they get and would not be able to fool the general public."
Smith showed those in attendance numbers from a 2008 HSUS annual report (www.humanesociety.org) indicating that the group has 11 million members who donated $131 million in 2008. He said the organization has 470 employees and indicated that the majority of them are lawyers because the majority of HSUS work is fundraising and research on laws and statutes around the country to choose which state to go into at the lowest cost.
Smith also read statistics that he said indicates that for every dollar raised, 22 cents goes toward communication, 22 cents goes to raising more money and only 5 cents actually goes to helping animals.
"My goal is to educate you and motivate you," Smith said, "because this is going to affect you. And, if you like to hunt, it's going to affect you too. These people don't care how long it takes. These people will keep coming back. There is no distinction between the treatment of animals and human beings."
For Americans accustomed to eating meat, eggs and dairy foods, the thought of an animal rights group with an almost unlimited budget targeting their food choices should be unsettling. When people donate to a local animal shelter they are helping animals in their community, they are making a difference and know where their money is going. Donating to an animal activist group could be the same thing as someday taking food out of American's mouths.
"This subject is well worth your time to research.Get educated and tell others about it," Smith said.