It appears the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is trying to change its image within the ag community.
HSUS’ director of rural outreach and development, Joe Maxwell, says one way it’s doing that is by stepping up its support of family farmers and ranchers. A recent example, Maxwell says, is HSUS’ recent support of the GIPSA livestock marketing rule.
“The best place we can find good stewards of the land and the animals is with our family farmers,” Maxwell says. “We really believe giving that farmer access to open markets allows them to survive and be sustainable—and then they’re the best folks who have a conscience towards their land, towards their animals.
“We think, overall, the animals benefit from it.”
Maxwell, a Missouri pork producer, acknowledges that there’s a lot of distrust of HSUS in farm country.
“I think the Humane Society of the United States got behind on messaging. It didn’t see big ag and a lot of corporate ag—Farm Bureau—coming out so negatively,” Maxwell says, “and so a lot the distrust is really myths and based on lies—it’s not the truth. But it’s there, so that become the reality.”
But what about past statements by some HSUS officials calling for the elimination of animal agriculture?
“A lot those are taken out of context. They’re one sentence out of a long speech,” Maxwell says. “But the best way to overcome that—and Wayne Pacelle understands that and I understand that—is to get out here and show.
“So the proof’s in the pudding. We’ve got to demonstrate that we are for farmers.”
Maxwell’s comments came in an interview with Brownfield at the recent annual meeting of the Nebraska Farmers Union.