In Nebraska, officials of Lincoln Public Schools (LPS) have instructed the district’s teachers not to distribute a recent issue of a Humane Society of the United States newsletter aimed at third and fourth graders.
LPS officials took the action after being alerted to the newsletter’s controversial content by Nebraska Farm Bureau. “It contained misinformation about contemporary agriculture,” says Cheryl Stubbendieck, vice president of public relations for Nebraska Farm Bureau. “It clearly worked to advance HSUS’ agenda. It showed pictures and had commentary about factory farms, and suggested that what was portrayed there was the dominant kind of agriculture.”
Stubbendieck says what concerned her the most was that the newsletter also urged youngsters to contact federal agencies to request tougher regulations on livestock production. She says targeting young children is a tactic HSUS likes to employ. “We are seeing HSUS targeting these young people in order to get to them before they maybe have fully developed their critical thinking skills and been exposed to other viewpoints.”
And while the Ag in the Classroom program is also aimed at young children, Stubbendieck says the difference is that the agricultural messages are not political.
“I suppose you can argue any presentation of information has an agenda behind it,” she says, “but we talk more in the Ag in the Classroom about the science of agriculture—the impacts on the economy and society.”
The newsletter in question was the April 2010 Junior edition of HSUS’ KIND newsletter. KIND stands for “Kids in Nature’s Defense”.