The Humane Society reached an historic agreement last year with the United Egg Producers to work on federal legislation that would seek better conditions for hens.This Iowa facility houses about 279,000 birds.(Kathleen Masterson/Harvest Public Media)
The rhetoric is rising in Nebraska, where Gov. Dave Heineman has used some choice words to rally farmers in their ongoing battle of words with the Humane Society of the United States.
During a speech before 80 cattlemen in Lexington last week, Heineman said he had a message for the Humane Society: "We're going to kick your ass and send you out of the state."
But the situation in Nebraska is a bit different than in other states. Wayne Pacelle, the Humane Society’s national president, said during a 2010 trip to Nebraska that the group would not seek a ballot issue there similar to those the group supported in other states.
Still, when Art Hovey at the Lincoln Journal Star followed up with Heineman’s office for comment on the letter, he was told:
“HSUS is anti-agriculture and I am going to continue to stand with Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers to fight this leftist organization that wants to destroy the No. 1 industry in our state.”
John Hansen, president of the Nebraska Farmers Union, who worked on the agreement with the Humane Society, issued a statement this week calling for an end to the battle of words.
“Enough is enough,” he said. “It is high time to call for a cease fire to the overheated rhetoric, personal assaults, political misdirection, agribusiness-financed misinformation campaign, and the less than honest efforts to start a fight with HSUS.”
Not only has the Humane Society agreed not to pursue the ballot issue, Hansen said, it has also committed to help create new markets for Nebraska farmers and ranchers and to establish an advisory committee to provide advice to producers.
Hansen also called out several commodity and advocacy groups -- Nebraska Farm Bureau, Nebraska Cattlemen, and the Nebraska Pork Producers Association – for fighting against corporate farming restrictions and federal anti-trust issues.
Bottom line, the real problems will not go away. Bottom line, the real problems will not get solved by creating scape goats. Since 1980, the USA has lost 91% of all hog producers, 81% of all dairy producers, 41% of all cattle producers, and 32% of all sheep producers. Not a one of those producers were forced out of business by the HSUS. Those are hard, inescapable facts. That real world economic reality cannot be swept under the rug.
Nebraska Farm Bureau Steve Nelson was unavailable for comment.
Interestingly, we here at Harvest Public Media are exploring this very issue this week in a panel discussion called “Digest This: The Messages and Motives Behind Farm and Food Controversies.” The event, in Columbia, Mo., will be streamed live here on our site at 4 p.m. and taped for broadcast later.