Increasing efforts to restrict livestock industry practices by animal rights groups in the U.S. are defended by the head of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Wayne Pacelle recently spoke with Brownfield, “All of our campaigns related to food animal production are about humane production standards, humane transport and humane slaughter. I mean, I defy anyone to show me any statement where we say we want to eliminate animal agriculture.”
Pacelle says concerns in agriculture that HSUS campaigns to crack down on irresponsible dog breeders, like the one in Missouri, have anything to do with livestock agriculture are unfounded. Pacelle says, “It’s an irrational and paranoid response.”
Pacelle says the goal of HSUS is not to shut down livestock production but to improve the treatment of animals raised for food. Members of ag groups in states such as Ohio and Missouri continue to work toward stopping what they say are HSUS attempts to eventually shut down livestock production in their states.
Dale Ludwig is one of the leaders of the Missouri Animal Ag Coalition and is the Executive Director of the Missouri Soybean Association. He tells Brownfield one only need to look at the track record of HSUS in other states, where they often start with an issue that deals with pets, raise vast sums of money, then follow up with additonal regulations on animal agriculture. “I think they continue to misrepresent what the facts are and they can say things like we are paranoid,” says Ludwig. “All you have to do is look at what they have done in other places” and ” you could make the assumption that’s what they will do here.”
An HSUS-backed ballot initiative in Missouri to crack down on dog breeders is gathering momentum. Pacelle says they will have enough signatures to place it on the November ballot. Ludwig says Missouri will be ready. A proposed constitutional amendment supported by the Missourians for Animal Care Coalition passed the Missouri House earlier this month. It is now in the Senate. Ludwig says the state legislature is ready to respond, if necessary, by placing the proposed amendment before voters in November. The amendment would protect the rights of Missourians to raise domesticated animals as long as they are treated in a humane matter “without the state imposing an undue economic burden on animal owners.”
In additon, Karen Strange with the Missouri Federation of Animal Owners, has sued the state to stop the “Puppy Mill” initiative. Strange takes issue with much of the ballot initiative language. For one, she contends the terms “puppy mill” and “puppy mill cruelty” are “likely to deceive and mislead voters.”