Last week, I wrote about a conversation I'd had with an individual who worked for one of the animal rights groups. The original conversation took place a few months ago, when producers were frantically dealing with Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) had just sent out a news release, the purpose of which was to alarm consumers about feedback - the only method available to producers to protect their herds agains PEDv.
The person at HSUS with whom I talked was Matt Prescott. Matt spends a lot of time being "friendly" with people like me - he promptly sends any news that may be perceived as positive to his organization's agenda to editors and others in animal agriculture.
I wrote back to Matt that he should read Erin Brenneman's blog about what it was really like to go through a PEDv outbreak - about its devastating affect on the morale of the people in addition to the terrible impact on the animals. I suggested to Matt that he visit Erin's farm. He replied that "he would love to!" I was sure he'd told me in that conversation that he had not been on any modern pork operations in the United States (which would explain his enthusiams about the opportunity to visit Erin's farm) but he tells me this is not true - that I misunderstood him.
It's possible that I did misunderstand Matt, but it's hard to say. Even though he was very anxious to go to Erin's operation, he refuses to tell me the names of the people who own the farms he purportedly has visited (if you are one of those producers, and you're reading this, please confirm that you've hosted Matt on your farm). I've assured him that I only want to confirm that he has, in actuality, been on a modern pork farm. I jokingly suggested that the reason he didn't want to tell me was because he was on the farm in the middle of the night with a video camera. Of course, I was only joking.
The conversation mentioned earlier is what prompted my blog, and my recommendation that we not invite HSUS personnel or other animal rights activists onto our farms. Because, as I mentioned, we cannot trust what they do or what they say. The organization's objectives are counter to those of animal agriculture. If I believed that Matt and others like him truly wanted to see a modern operation to learn and understand the practices used, I'd be the first to encourage producers to open their doors, but I don't foresee that happening anytime in the near future.