FUR COMMISSION USA COMMENTARY, JUNE 22, 2003

HSUS Pitches "Eco-Label " for Farm Animals

Which Comes First? The Chicken, the Egg, the Pork, or HSUS?

We've seen it before: "green" and animal "rights" groups, while producing piles of misinformation on resource production issues, offering to certify and market "humanely" and / or "environmentally" produced food and clothing. For a fee, of course.

Since government already performs the function of overseeing industry, also for a fee (your taxes), third-party "eco-labels" have been heavily debated but overwhelmingly rejected by resource providers themselves.

Their reasoning is simple. How can groups so heavily invested in attacking fishermen, farmers and loggers ever lighten up enough to speak well of them?

Incubating, Counting Your Eggs, or How to Create a Conflict Nest Egg

HSUS is not moving into the certification game without any certification experience. Beyond its continuing attacks on pork producers and its classic 2002 PIGGIE PAC initiative which established constitutional rights for pigs in Florida, HSUS's management has already tested the waters with a pay-for-certification program within the egg industry along with years of involvement with Earth Island Institute's shakedown of the tuna industry.

John Kuhlberg, who worked for HSUS from 1994 until his death in April 2003, acted as advisor to FACT, the Food Animal Concerns Trust. HSUS calls Kuhlberg a "visionary." FACT, founded in 1982, a non-profit conflict incubator designed to raise concerns over farm animals and collect the money generated by such concerns, maintains a wholly-owned for-profit subsidiary, established in 1984, called "Nest Eggs" which offers "humane" certification to egg farms for a fee, of course.

FACT tells us it increases public awareness about "problems in animal husbandry practices." FACT is the conflict incubator, generating conflict.

Meanwhile FACT's Nest Eggs certification program offers a percentage of the chicken farming industry, for a fee, a third-party endorsement that some farmers are O.K.

Which Comes First? The Nest Egg or the Conflict Incubator, FACT?

FACT tells us it promotes "federal regulations to force factory farms to improve the well-being of all farm animals," while ignoring the fact that farmers are regulated by the state departments of agriculture. And, of course, use of the derogatory term "factory farms" doesn't do much to help farmers, big or small, convey a realistic view of modern farming. FACT offers to market to the public, via its subsidiary Nest Eggs, what has always been a standard on farms: the relentless pursuit of perfection in animal husbandry.

Sadly, while farmers strive for excellence and survival, Nest Eggs will collect their money while FACT, its mother corporation, issues propaganda designed to poison the atmosphere against farmers.

Which Comes First? The Chicken? The Egg? The Pork? Or HSUS?

FACT's Nest Eggs appears to have closed down in 2002, at about the same time HSUS was raising millions on the Florida PIGGIE PAC. Now HSUS wants to parlay this win with a new campaign focusing on certifying farms, seeking to raise $60 million from the public! Now that's a nice return on investment!

If any organization can strongarm farmers into paying the devil himself, it's HSUS.

And even when such groups appear to have something nice to say, all they are really doing is endorsing hopelessly inefficient practices that ignore economic factors and force the providers to lose ground.

In short, why would any resource provider in his right mind give money to a group hell-bent on putting him out of business?

Tragically, that's not to say there isn't money to be made by such unscrupulous groups. Earth Island Institute, for example, does very nicely as America's self-appointed tuna overlord, while the World Wildlife Fund, through its Forestry and Marine Stewardship Councils, has carved itself pieces of the timber and fishing pies.

And the certification-for-a-fee part of the campaign is only one source of funds. The public also gives to support such programs paying twice, once in taxes at the checkout stand and again in donations to groups advertising such programs. Ouch!

Enter HSUS

Now the most unlikely player has joined the certification game. America's largest animal rights corporation, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), has announced its Humane Farm Animal Care (HFAC) certification program, aimed at promoting a "Certified Humane Raised & Handled" label for meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products.

And in case that doesn't earn enough money and destroy enough farms, it has also pledged to raising $60 million from the public (a mere year's income for HSUS) and focusing four years of its time to start the process with its "Care4Iowa" campaign to certify Iowan pork.

Well, heads up all you Iowan pork farmers! This is the same group that recently gained constitutional rights for pigs in Florida! Pigs will fly before HSUS becomes your ally!

Such programs, if allowed to get off the ground, could present tremendous business opportunities for animal rights multinational HSUS. Imagine raking in a percentage, tax free, of the food and clothing production pie, without even having to change your core business of sowing misinformation and mistrust of farmers and fishermen, from which you continue to earn tens of millions annually! Even pig farmers can't beat HSUS at raising this much pork!

Do we truly have this much money to burn in the United States? After all, we already pay to ensure compliance with humane and environmental laws with our local, state and federal tax dollars!


See also:

FCUSA Press Kit special feature: H$U$ Resource Center.

FCUSA resources: Rules & regulations: labeling.

"Campaign to focus on livestock care: The statewide effort will promote 'eating meat that was raised in a humane way'", Des Moines Register, May 29, 2003.

Eco-labels.org, produced by the Consumers Union Guide to Environmental Labels.


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