The newly formed partnership between the Humane Society of the United States and the Nebraska Farmers Union drew a sharp response from the five Nebraska farm groups who earlier this fall organized We Support Agriculture.
At a Lincoln press conference, NFU and HSUS announced what they call the Nebraska Agriculture Council of the Humane Society of the United States. The intent, what NFU President John Hansen called a positive approach for the state, is for the council to develop welfare standards for raising farm animals and to develop marketing opportunities for those who raise those animals.
"We are shocked and disappointed that any Nebraska agriculture group would
align itself with an extreme animal rights organization such as the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)," says Pete McClymont, chairman of We Support Agriculture. "Nebraska's farmers and ranchers are caring people who know how to care for their animals properly. They go to great lengths to protect their animals from disease, predators and the harsh Nebraska climate while feeding their families, their neighbors and the world."
McClymont adds, "When we announced the formation of We Support Agriculture, we explained how HSUS works and how it operated in other states. We said they hire a state director, they run a push-poll, they hold organizational meetings and threaten farm groups with ballot initiatives. We said HSUS was starting to do the same things here in Nebraska, and now we see more evidence that HSUS is targeting Nebraskans and our farmers and ranchers."
According to McClymont, John Goodwin, director of Animal Cruelty Policy at HSUS once said, "My goal is the abolition of all animal agriculture."
"We know that HSUS's goal is to make Americans eat less food originating from animals such as meat, eggs and dairy products and to eliminate consumer food choices," McClymont says. "It is clear HSUS does not want to work with Nebraska's leading and respected agricultural organizations, but instead wants to bully them with the threat of a ballot initiative unless we cave in to HSUS's extreme animal rights agenda. Why in the world would we want to work with a group with that kind of extreme agenda?"
At the NFU press conference, Hansen indicated HSUS had agreed not to pursue an initiative petition in Nebraska based on the newly announced partnership. But at the same event, Joe Maxwell, HSUS director of rural development and outreach, said the animal rights group would consider using the initiative process as a last resort.
"This is why we won't sit down with extreme animal rights organizations like HSUS and PETA," McClymont says. "They don't give a straight answer to what their extreme animal rights agenda really is.
"WSA will continue our efforts to build a broad coalition of Nebraskans from across the state that stand behind Nebraska's farmers and ranchers and defend them against this extreme agenda," he adds.
We Support Agriculture consists of the Nebraska Cattlemen, Nebraska Farm Bureau, Nebraska Pork Producers Association, Nebraska Poultry Industries and the Nebraska State Dairy Association.