I’ve decided I want – no, let me rephrase that – I need to be a member of the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) board of directors.
Just as HSUS President Wayne Pacelle announced this week he’s running for a seat on the Tyson Foods board, I’m offering my experience, expertise and energy to the HSUS board. And while it’s certainly unusual for a lifelong animal agriculture advocate to offer himself up as a director of the world’s largest animal rights organization, to paraphrase Pacelle’s rationale for his Tyson bid, animals are at the center of the HSUS business model, yet it’s lagging badly in its understanding and empathy for those who provide meat, milk and eggs to the carnivores among us – roughly 98% of the public – and I can help the HSUS board with that.
While I may lack the academic credentials and financial/social standing of most of the sitting members of the HSUS board, and I may not know as much about cable TV, the Los Angeles mediaplex, entertainment law, academic approaches to real world issues or the philosophy that compels someone to dedicate immense resources and energy to “helping” where little help is needed or wanted, I’m convinced my professional background, personal philosophy and engaging personality would bring a breath of fresh air to HSUS board meetings. I’d infuse the current board with new blood, so to speak, and at the very least expose the board to polite but firm disagreement with its tacit approval of HSUS’s war on farming and ranching, along with other legitimate and necessary uses of animals in our society.
As the world’s largest animal rights conglomerate, HSUS elicits its fair share of criticism. On one side you have the radical animal rights community believing HSUS is in league with the devil for trying to subvert corporate agribusiness rather than dedicating its considerable bank account to foment the immediate demise of modern animal agriculture. On the other side are those of us in animal agriculture – farmers, ranchers, feed companies, animal health companies, vets, equipment manufacturers, truckers, food processors, industry advocates and retailers, including, I’m sure, a number of companies who’ve publicly surrendered to HSUS demands – who are convinced HSUS, based on its public statements, campaigns, actions, affiliations and allegiances – already seeks animal agriculture’s immediate demise, it’s just very patient and following a step-wise strategy.
As a newly minted HSUS board member, I’d help my fellow directors wrestle with the rule of unintended consequences. I’d help them sift out what’s real and what’s prejudice/philosophy/opinion born out of urban myth or self-interest when it comes to animal agriculture and our alleged sins. I would point them to the science underlying modern ag practices. I would explain the economics of food production, the realities of limited land for an every-growing and hungry national and world population. I’d even introduce interested board members to actual experts in food production, hook them up with real, live conventional farmers and ranchers, animal scientists, large animal veterinarians and industry execs. I’d volunteer to bring the guest speaker to the board meetings when ag is on the agenda. Heck, I’d bring the donuts.
I could help explain to them that I’m kind of an everyman, an average guy who, when I personally give hard-earned dollars to 501(c)(3) federally blessed charities, likes to see a board process of deliberation and prioritization on the best way to spend those dollars based on what contributors believe the organization’s real purpose to be. When I give money to a group which espouses animal “protection,” I want those dollars spent on hands-on, bricks-and-mortar animal protection and assistance, not on lawyers to wage myriad legislative and regulatory battles, state ballot referenda costing millions, lawsuits, Federal Trade Commission (FTC) complaints, trips to Wall Street to pester food company financiers or self-aggrandizing public relations campaigns.
Again paraphrasing Pacelle’s reasoning for why he wants to be a Tyson director, over the years I’ve worked closely with other major animal rights advocates and groups and helped them understand why their efforts against farm animal husbandry are misguided and misdirected.
And when it comes to my earnest bid for an HSUS director’s seat? Who could disagree with that, except some of the most hardened apologists for the status quo?