Recently an agriculture industry trade journal called Beef Producer, which supplies content to 18 state publications for Farm Progress agriculture information service, ran an opinion piece that drew all its talking points from one source: Rick Berman. Under the headline “HSUS Shows Continued Pattern Of Dishonest Behavior,” editor Alan Newport quoted misinformation from HumaneWatch and compared the Humane Society of the United States to thieves and rapists.
We aren’t going to repeat this travesty of journalism here, but we will repost the response from Stop HumaneWatcher Kevin Fulton, who knows Newport personally and rightly took him to task for the hatchet job he published without bothering to talk to anyone at HSUS or even check their website. Fulton runs a 2800-acre grassfed cattle ranch in Litchfield, Neb., where he chairs the first HSUS Agriculture Council.
I must say I was disappointed in your December 13th piece attacking HSUS. It’s one thing to oppose something and substantiate it with facts but when you perpetuate lies to make your position, it suggests that you yourself are untrustworthy based on your very own reasoning! Your rant shows a true lack of integrity and professionalism. Analogies using liars, thieves, and rapists and implying that animal advocates somehow belong in the same category is a delusional thought. It would behoove you to understand that the HSUS is not a group of bureaucrats sitting in an office somewhere but rather millions of supporters at the grassroots level, including farmers like myself. You have unfairly attacked all of us with your absurd implications and we take great offense to that.
You’ve been to my home and toured my farm, and you know that I am a real farmer. I’ve heard all the anti-ag and other rhetoric about HSUS for years, and I’ve thoroughly done my research and investigated the sources. I’ve been to HSUS headquarters and traveled with their leadership on numerous occasions. Do you think I would align with an organization that is against animal agriculture since my sole livelihood depends on that? Ninety five percent of their membership eats animal products! Most of their members and staff own animals yet you claim they are opposed to animal agriculture and animal ownership. How do you possibly reach such idiotic conclusions?
Like you, Wayne Pacelle has also been to my home and toured my farm. I’ve worked with him on numerous projects. My experiences with HSUS leadership are first hand. I was always taught to think for myself instead of blindly following the status quo. Your info comes right from the talking points of Rick Berman, who is a highly discredited lobbying and public relations hack in Washington, D.C. He’s no farmer, and the only connect he has to farming is that he takes money from certain farming interests to try to discredit HSUS. And they are naive enough to fund his smear campaigns instead of standing up and taking ownership in their own problems and addressing the issues. HSUS has a number of farmers working on their staff in leadership positions. Ask Rick Berman how many farmers his bogus organization has on staff.
HSUS makes it plain that it is about protecting all animals, and that it has never served, and never claimed to serve as a pass-through organization for animal shelters. HSUS does do a lot for shelters, but it’s always been more than that. Any 5th grader could find their website and substantiate this.
I’ve been an HSUS member for a number of years now. I get their publications and have seen livestock farmers profiled in their magazine, annual reports, daily blogs, on their website and in brochures and other promotional material. In fact we are promoting several ag related events right here in Nebraska in just the month of February alone where farmers and their products will be showcased. We have Agricultural Councils in six states now with others waiting to be announced in the near future. This is an idea that I brought to the organization in 2010 and they embraced my suggestion. I now proudly serve as chairperson of the first Ag Council which was formed here in Nebraska. These councils are made up of prominent farmers and leaders in the sustainable ag community that you are likely familiar with. Have you bothered to reach out to any of these farmers like any competent journalist would?
You did to HSUS supporters what the most zealous animal advocates do to farmers like me – you misrepresented the situation, either because you’ll say anything to denigrate them, or because you just didn’t take the time to research it yourself. I hope it was the latter case, and I hope you’ll be more rigorous about this in the future. You’ve always struck me as a serious advocate for sustainable agriculture but maybe I have mis-judged you. I’m not fearful of anyone who advocates that animals should be allowed to move and not be imprisoned in a tiny crate. This is basic animal husbandry. Extreme confinement systems represent a fanatical mindset and most farmers like myself do not want to be associated with these operations at all.
Lastly, I will invite you to the upcoming Nebraska Sustainable Ag Conference here in Nebraska on February 13-14th where Wayne Pacelle will be giving the keynote presentation and talking about the importance of farmers and animals in our sustainable farming systems. http://www.nebsusag.org/conference.shtml It will also serve as a gathering for HSUS Ag Council members from various states to kickoff this event. Of course you would have to be open to the truth to benefit from this invitation. That would likely challenge you and push you out of your comfort zone. But any reputable journalist would welcome the opportunity to get the truth.
Kevin Fulton Fulton Farms Litchfield, NE