According to polls, approximately 83 percent of Americans approve of the Humane Society of the United States, a speaker reported at the recent American Agri-Women Symposium held in Washington, D.C. The symposium was entitled “Animal Agriculture under Siege — How to be a Force for Truth,” and is sponsored by the Past Presidents Council.

David Martosko, director of the Center  for Consumer Freedom, believes most people mistakenly think that the money they donate to HSUS will go to local animal shelters. But in reality HSUS is promoting conflict between urban and rural cultures with the end goal being to eliminate meat from the diet.

To combat the HSUS agenda and reveal the truth, Martosko has founded a Web site —www.humanewatch.org — which shadows HSUS and other animal rights groups. By going to the website, an individual can see how much of the HSUS budget goes to animal protection compared to salaries, advertising and fundraising expenses.

Martosko and Steve Kopperud of Policy Directions, agreed  that the animal rights organizations are coalition building and animal agriculture should do the same. Kopperud suggested that agriculture should develop alliances that perhaps were not thought of before, such as unions, churches, educators and less radical animal humane groups.

A longtime friend of AAW, Kopperud reminisced about a referendum that was defeated in Massachusetts in 1988 with the help of Boston labor unions. He urged the ag women “to talk to people you’ve never talked to before.”

Chelsie Redalen, director of government relations for the National Pork Producers Council, cautioned about the current legislation on use of antibiotics in livestock production. She commented that one piece on antibiotics seen on the evening news gave the livestock industry one minute to tell its story as opposed to 13 minutes for the opponents.

Redalen also described the ads which commuters saw on all the metro trains in Washington, D.C. last year, financed by the Pew Commission.   The headline said “Up to 70 percent of U.S. antibiotics go to farm animals that aren’t sick”. These statistics were based on an uncredible source, she said.
Kay Johnson Smith, executive vice president of the Animal Agriculture Alliance, encouraged the women to use social media to their advantage.   She reported that 45 percent of the people get news from their emails and almost 2 billion people use the internet.

Johnson Smith also urged ag women to use pictures to tell their stories. For example, something so common and taken for granted such as a cow rubbing its back on a back scratcher actually illustrates that the owner cares about the animal by providing care and comfort equipment.

Congressman Steve King from northwest Iowa stressed that “You have to go on the offense. Tell the facts and put the opposition on the spot.” That seemed to be the concensus of the panel.

Source: American Agri-Women