Cyndi's Two Cents
HSUS bit off more than it could chew
I believe the animal rights activist group HSUS bit off more than it was ready to chew when it pointed an accusatory finger at Rose Acre Farms earlier this month.
Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) held a news conference in Des Moines on April 7 to disclose the results of its latest “investigation” which in its words, “exposed rampant abuse at the top levels of the egg industry in America.” HSUS showed undercover video which it says was shot inside the barns of two Iowa egg producers, Rose Acre Farms and Rembrandt Enterprises. HSUS says they are the nation’s second- and third-largest egg producers.
HSUS CEO and President Wayne Pacelle told media the videos showed, what he called, “appalling abuses” of laying hens, including injuries from overcrowding, broken bones from rough handling by workers and high mortality rates.
“The treatment of these animals in these systems is unconscionable—it is inhumane—and it should not be acceptable for a society that says it values animal welfare,” Pacelle says, “and the agribusiness industry will claim it’s handling the situation just fine—and I defy them to make that argument in any rational and meaningful way after seeing the footage.”
Within hours of that news conference, Rose Acre Farms announced it would undergo a third party audit of its poultry operations in Iowa.
“Today, we’re actually doing an independent audit, with a third party, on all three of our Iowa locations, to get a confirmation from a third party that everything’s good,” said KY Hendrix, Vice President of production at Rose Acre Farms.
Hendrix said Rose Acre Farms stands behind its production practices.
“We care about our animals, we care about our environment, we care about the freedom of choice, we care about our people and we want to provide a good product that you can feel good about,” Hendrix said.
The employee that recorded the HSUS video only worked for Rose Acre Farms for 2 weeks. Hendrix says that as of now, no legal action against that individual is planned, even though the employee did sign the company’s “Animal Welfare” paper that says if anything was being done, like what was shown in the video, they were to bring it to the attention of a supervisor, which obviously did not happen.
I presented a workshop titled “Conveying your message” at the 2010 Women’s Ag Conference in Creston, Iowa just two days after (HSUS) held that press conference. I know many of you who read this column on a regular basis grow weary of my constant “Tell your story or let someone else tell it for you” mantra. When HSUS attempted to “expose” Rose Acre Farms, I believe it failed. Why? Rose Acre Farms has done a good job of identifying itself as a fifth generation family farm. Go to the website and you’ll see a slide show with pictures dating back many years. Rose Acre Farms was also quick to respond instead of cowering in a corner waiting for this nightmare to end. Almost immediately, they announced a third-party audit and came out with a statement to let the world know that they are good stewards.
Any “big” livestock farm – any species, anywhere – is a target of the anti-animal agriculture movement. Rose Acre Farms did not and has not backed down or buckled. As a matter of fact, there is a note to media on the company website, inviting media to visit the farms, provided the necessary bio-security precautions are taken to protect the health of their hens.
My hat is off to Rose Acre Farms for taking the high road. We all need to do the right thing every day on our farms.