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Hunters, farmers face a shared threat
Buckeye Farm News
When animal rights groups backed an anti-hunting ballot measure in Ohio in 1998, the state’s hunters saw a bigger picture.
“We felt if they could win here in America’s heartland, it would open the floodgates,” said Doug Jeanneret, vice president of marketing for the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance.
“They’ll keep nipping away at you until you’re really put into a corner,” he said.
Ohio Farm Bureau was among those who supported the state’s hunters during their campaign, and Ohio voters ultimately defeated the measure.
Jeanneret puts the current efforts of the Washington, D.C.-based Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to ban certain farming practices in the same category. In fact, the Fund for Animals, which backed the anti-hunting measure in the 1990s has since merged with HSUS.
“Farmers need to know that this is the first battle and it’s a huge battle and it will set a precedent,” Jeanneret said of the HSUS’s attempt to write rules for Ohio farmers. “It’s something you have to defend now, because it will never ever stop.”
Greg R. Lawson, the Sportsmen’s Alliance director of communications, said the idea of activists coming in from Washington, D.C. to tell Ohioans how to farm is ridiculous. But perhaps more concerning is their guiding ideology that animals should ultimately have rights similar to humans.
“Where will they ever draw the line when you start to understand what their philosophy really is,” he asked.
The animal rights activists’ fight against Ohio’s hunting community, which can be traced back to an unsuccessful constitutional amendment to ban trapping in the late 1970s, has offered some lessons for farmers.
“The fact that sportsmen have held on as long as we have is just unbelievable,” Jeanneret said about his organization’s winning record in the public policy arena. “We’ve done a better job of organizing our grassroots and getting all factions of sportsmen to work together.”
For farmers to enjoy similar success, they too must find common ground, he said. And hunters and farmers should work together against a shared threat.
“If (animal rights activists) were to win in this battle, it’s not the end, it’s never the end for these guys,” he said.
The Sportsmen’s Alliance supported farmers in the Issue 2 campaign last year and is prepared to help in this year’s campaign. But Jeanneret warned that animal rights activists are just as passionate as the state’s farmers and sportsmen.
“They’ve got true believers on their side every bit as much as we have and they’ve got a hell of a lot more money,” he said.
Cause for Concern
When Wayne Pacelle worked for the Fund for Animals in the 1990s, he was famously quoted by a newspaper saying “If we could shut down all sport hunting in a moment we would.”
Michael Markarian, who used to head the Fund for Animals, writes in A Primer on Animal Rights that “Hunting, it is true, is an American tradition - a tradition of killing, crippling, extinction, and ecological destruction.”
Pacelle is now the CEO of the HSUS and Markarian is the director of the HSUS Legislative Fund.
In 2005, after Pacelle took the helm of HSUS, the animal rights magazine Satya wrote “With his promotion came a revamp of the organization’s mission, the development of a new campaigns section with a focus on farm animals, and the establishment of a company-wide vegan policy. The vision is to consolidate forces. Early this year, the Fund for Animals formally merged with HSUS, and the leadership of one of the most successful grassroots animal advocacy groups, Compassion Over Killing, joined its ranks. Tireless vegan activist MD, Michael Greger, also moved to HSUS.”
HSUS has also hired Matthew Prescott, who developed the “Holocaust on a Plate” campaign for the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals. John Goodwin, who reportedly served as spokesperson for the Animal Liberation Front and once stated his goal was the “abolition of all animal agriculture” is also on the HSUS staff. Paul Shapiro who heads HSUS’s farming campaigns and founded the vegan Compassion Over Killing group also published The Abolitionist magazine.
Pacelle maintains that HSUS only seeks modest reforms.