Well-known quarterback Michael Vick, incarcerated for operating a dog-fighting ring, is back playing NFL football. Unfortunately, he's also providing outreach for the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS).
It's moves like this that give animal activist groups like HSUS more money, power and influence than they deserve. Ultimately, it affects all livestock producers and crop farmers across the country.
Last year about this time, HSUS marched into Ohio to meet and negotiate with poultry, beef and pork producers. “Plain and simple, negotiate meant they were here to put animal agriculture out of business with total disregard for available scientific evidence on animal well-being,” says Jeff Wuebker, a farmer from Versailles, OH, and president of the Ohio Soybean Association (OSA).
OHIO AGRICULTURE SWUNG into action and created the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board through a resolution called Issue 2 that passed last November. Ohio voters overwhelmingly supported Issue 2 with 87 of 88 counties voting for it.
For that to occur, a coalition was formed that raised over $4.8 million to support Issue 2. In fact, soybean associations from a 10-state area pumped in $400,000 for support; OSA kicked in $200,000 of that.
The 13-member board's charged with ensuring livestock well-being, maintaining food safety and assuring a locally grown and raised food supply. The board is composed of a broad-based group of Ohio experts.
“They'll look at standards for disease, biosecurity, food safety and food affordability,” says Wuebker, who runs an 1,800-sow operation with his brother Alan.
The saga is far from over. HSUS doesn't give up that easily.
“We hope they don't come this year, but they said they would. They'll need 400,000 signatures to get on a ballot and it will probably cost them a half million dollars,” Wuebker says.
Already, HSUS has started to organize, and Wuebker says Ohio farmers are expecting a battle. “HSUS has formed a PAC called Ohioans For Humane Farms,” he says. “They want animal ag out of business; we need to expose them.
“We've set a precedent with this new board and have raised public awareness. Still, they (HSUS) could take another run at animal care this month or next in Ohio and we have to be ready.”
Don't forget, livestock is one of your best customers for corn and soybeans. About 45% of U.S.-grown soybeans and corn is fed back to livestock.
What can you do? Wuebker says start by visiting www.hsus.org and click on issues, then factory farming. You'll see that HSUS doesn't like any part of animal ag. Also, be an advocate for animal ag and support corn and soybean associations — who support animal ag at all levels.