HSUS food industry ally spews hogwash

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“Cheese-eating surrender monkeys” is how The Simpsons described the French. And it seems the French attitude has sunk into a corner of the restaurant industry.

Rick Berman Rick Berman The Francophiles at Bon Appétit Management Company, which supplies corporations and colleges, have not just trashed the use of individual maternity pens, which are supported by veterinarians. Bon Appétit now is arrogantly trashing egg farmers across California and demanding that they, essentially, go out of business.

Over at the liberal Huffington Post, Bon Appétit vice president Maisie Ganzler writes that California’s egg farmers need to stop protesting Proposition 2, a HSUS-backed state ballot initiative that requires California egg farmers to invest in costly infrastructure changes by 2015. It’s a strange request from Bon Appétit considering that University of California experts predicted Proposition 2’s mandates—designed by the Humane Society of the United States—would essentially put the state egg industry out of business.

The problem here—and more generally, for pork producers and across animal agriculture—is that Bon Appétit is listening to the wrong voices. Ganzler writes that Bon Appétit initially sought HSUS for advice several years back. She writes, “We began working with the experts at the HSUS to create a trustworthy program” of corporate animal welfare policies.

And what, pray tell, does HSUS know about animal welfare and behavior? What “expertise” does HSUS possess on livestock?


Polling finds that the American public trusts farmers and veterinarians over animal rights activists when it comes to animal welfare issues by a margin of 76% to 10%. It’s overwhelming. Keep this in mind.

My staff recently visited with a veterinarian who has nearly 60 years of experience with swine and was captivated by his wealth of stories about his experiences. Growing up, this veterinarian learned firsthand that sows can be nasty and aggressive toward other animals and people. He learned about the drawbacks of housing sows outdoors, and later, in indoor group pens. He was very knowledgeable, and cogent in his communications.

This isn’t knowledge of animals that many Americans are hearing.

That’s because HSUS has a loud megaphone, and it has co-opted the real experts—farmers and veterinarians—in the public debate about animal welfare. HSUS pretends to be the only side of the debate that cares about animal welfare. HSUS has launched its own “Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association,” which absorbed the radical Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights, and recently has even recruited a handful of small-scale farmers to take shots at other farmers who use mainstream production technology.

We all know that HSUS has no legitimacy on animal welfare. It is a group of ideological zealots who are against animal agriculture. That’s not a scientific or an animal welfare stance.

Therefore, we must generate better messaging focused on veterinarians, animal behavior scientists, and producers. We all know that professional activists who grew up in the suburbs have no credibility on animal welfare. We just have to communicate it far and wide.

That’s certainly something the Pork checkoff can do. Or, if you want to help us in this effort or recommend someone we should talk to, contact me at Berman@BermanCo.com.

HSUS and its water-carriers in the restaurant industry want you to swallow higher costs and unsustainable systems, and ignore your veterinarians and your years of experience with animals—to the point where you’ll go out of business.

If we don’t fight back, then bon appétit.

Rick Berman is the Executive Director of the Center for Consumer Freedom, a nonprofit coalition supported by restaurants, food companies and consumers to promote personal responsibility and protect consumer choices.The thoughts expressed in this commentary are expressly those of the author. Visit HumaneWatch.org to learn more.

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South Dakota  |  February, 13, 2014 at 09:53 AM

Rick, you are right on the money in your analysis of this situation and the need to create better communication to animate the 90% consumer trust in farmers. Of course the job will not be easy. And there are some undefended flanking positions where the industry is extremely vulnerable to attack from other directions - odor, un-resolved air quality and environmental issues that need to be shored up. I will be happy to help you with these things so we don't get blindsided, just as you are making progress.

kansas  |  February, 13, 2014 at 11:59 AM

Number #1 priority needs to be a counter-attack in Social & Popular Media, not hand-wringing, wallowing in self-pity and self-congratulatory discussions regarding advancements amongst ourselves. Repurpose marketing & advertising financial resources that now generically tout pork (and other proteins) to presenting the Story of Farming, that brings them to consumers. At the same time, attack-attack-attack those presenting false messages, exposing them as liars with a hidden agenda. Today's consumers love a good conspiracy report, and are ready to jump in and share dirty little secrets revealed. On the positive messaging side, creating multiple, personal connections with people in leadership positions is a must. And forcing our way into discussions/venues where we've been intentionally excluded or ignored by means of shaming can help as well. Ms. Ganzler, for example, has NO farmer/farming connections in LinkedIn and she's a Cornell grad. Why? And she's presented and participated in TED- XManhattan, a NYC foodie forum where not a single person from real-world Agriculture participated (dreadlocked hippies w/one brown cow and 40 chickens do not count). Why? And where are our Celebrity Endorsers? Surely we can recruit at least one or two Stars who love and support real farmers, if our opponents can lure dozens of half-witted ones to their cults? Do as I and a few others, and never miss an opportunity to comment or post on FB and Google+ when you see a lie being told or repeated - and get personal about it. Quoting dry, academic studies to besotted foodies in the throws of Organismic Naturalism doesn't work, but righteous indignation, contempt and ridicule does undermine their self- esteem and create self-doubt.

Terry Ward    
Pa.  |  February, 13, 2014 at 02:28 PM

Polls find no one in the American public trusts Rick Berman.

Fred Dodsworth    
South Dakota  |  February, 13, 2014 at 09:18 PM

Just because Berman says Polling finds that the American public trusts farmers and veterinarians over animal rights activists when it comes to animal welfare issues by a margin of 76% to 10%. It’s overwhelming. Keep this in mind. That doesn't make it true... Polling (seriously compromised Skew the poll polling said Mitt Romney in a landslide. Didn't work out that way, though did it? Careful where you put your money, the federal gov isn't going to bail out every farmer, only the very rich ones.

Fred Dodsworth    
South Dakota  |  February, 13, 2014 at 09:22 PM


Randy Janssen    
San Antonio  |  February, 14, 2014 at 05:38 AM

The HSUS is not your local animal shelter. The HSUA has been hijacked by radical animal rights activist. It is an over 150 million dollar corporation that spends almost every dime it gets on obscene salaries and filing lawsuits. It raises money by showing ads of cute dogs and cats, but it spends less then 1 cent on the dollar to feed and shelter cats and dogs. More and more members of congress are questioning the tax free status of the HSUS because of its political activities. The HSUS IS AGAINST RODEO AND WESTERN TRADITIONS. IT IS FOR A VEGETERIAN LIFE STYLE AND AGAIST EATING MEAT. The HSUS has been accused of paying employes to abuse animals and videoing the abuse as proof that meat production should be stopped. The HSUS wants to change our eating habits and standard of living by outlawing factory farming methods which are used on family farms. The HSUS is bad for America so don't applaud its lackeys. If you want to support something think about giving to the child fund, St. Jude, the Wounded Warriors, or you local food bank. If you want to help animals, give money to you local animal shelter. Giving money to the HSUS is giving money to a large bureaucracy that waste it on salaries and litigation. It claims to do good but if you really look at what it does, it only piggybacks on the work of local organizations.

Laurella Desborough    
Florida  |  February, 14, 2014 at 09:09 AM

Viewing internet lists finds that Terry Ward is carrying water for the animal rights radicals. Nuff said. Whenever has the HSUS had ANY animal experience outside of promoting euthanasia, jumping in to take PR advantage when there is a disaster, or simply propagandizing the public with ads about suffering dogs and cats so they can collect donor dollars to use AGAINST animal owners, breeders, producers, zoos, circuses, etc. Hell will freeze over before the HSUS knows anything about real animal care and welfare.

Laurella Desborough    
Florida  |  February, 14, 2014 at 09:14 AM

To Fred Dodsworth. I don't care what wikipedia says about Berman. I don't care who funds Berman. Wht I do care about is that Berman speaks and writes the truth about the animal rights agenda. However, I didn't need to learn that from Rick Berman, I learned it years ago when the HSUS promoted and propagandized about other animal issues...and sued federal agencies to get their way. The HSUS has an agenda that is clear because they have stated it...they want to END ANIMAL AGRICULTURE. What could be clearer than that for an agenda. Now, I am pretty darn sure that the majority of the folks in the US do NOT want to see the end of animal agriculture. No way.

Rosemary Marshall    
UK  |  February, 14, 2014 at 11:36 AM

Lies, lies and more lies. Mr Berman you make a career out of trashing bone fide organisations like HSUS. It is sad to see the USA so backward and threatening to make things much worse with its vast mega dairies etc. In June this year there will be a ground breaking book called Farmageddon published in the USA. This has just been published in the UK and went to two reprints in the first fortnight. It shows from a worldwide perspective what will happen if we do not mend the broken food system. REMEMBER; IT IS CALLED "FARMAGEDDON", written by Philip Lymbery the Chief Executive of the highly respected organisation, Compassion in World Farming, and Isabel Oakeshott, the Political Editor of the Times newspaper.

Marcy Covault    
Oklahoma  |  February, 14, 2014 at 01:36 PM

Lies, lies, and more lies by the H$U$ apologists. "Animal rights" is NOT the same as "animal welfare", and the H$U$ is led by "animal rights" *true believers*, whose ultimate agenda is eliminating animal use in our society--sounds pretty sociopathic at its roots, doesn't it? Yup. That's an affirmative. CWF is only highly respected by those pushing the AR "propaganda mill" BIG LIES, not by the true animal welfare experts.

usa not france  |  February, 14, 2014 at 01:42 PM

LOL Terry Ward?/ the same Terry Ward who claims to live in FRANCE where the national food is FOIE GRAS?? That one had me rolling in the aisles .. meanwhile if Berman is wrong about the HSUS I will eat a vegan meal.. .. Please don;t make me do it.. LOL

St. Louis  |  February, 14, 2014 at 06:04 PM

Hey Rick You sure have been in the news this week. Are your ears burning?

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