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Livestock coalition meeting looks at animal care issues

Buckeye Farm News

Representatives of the American Humane Association, which is supporting the efforts of the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board, recently addressed a record crowd of more than 200 individuals at the Ohio Livestock Coalition annual meeting.

David Geis, American Humane Association chairman, said he looks forward to working with the livestock community to make the board a success in Ohio.

“We bring our reputation to the table,” he said. “We will speak very, very loudly if this effort turns into a front or an imitation.”

Tim Amlaw, vice president of the American Humane Certified farm animal program, shared with attendees the organization’s commitment to helping the board establish science-based auditing, education and operations practices.

“Science isn’t the only thing we have to look at, but it has to start there,” he said.

Amlaw also said that livestock care standards must be flexible and be good for the people involved.

“It certainly has to be good for your business,” he said.

However, he said livestock care is ultimately not about marketing a product.

“It’s about doing the right thing.”

A leading critic of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) spoke about the tactics employed by the nation’s largest animal rights organization.

David Martosko, who operates www.humanewatch.org, a blog that has generated more than 30,000 supporters on Facebook in recent months, said the only thing that separates HSUS from the notorious People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is “they’re just smarter and more patient.”

“PETA’s primary goal is to make HSUS look reasonable by comparison,” he said. “It’s this good cop/bad cop routine.”

Martosko questioned why HSUS President Wayne Pacelle, a longtime vegan activist, should be involved in policy discussions about livestock farming, since “there is no such thing as humane meat to this guy.”

“He’s an outsider, not a stakeholder,” Martosko said. “He doesn’t get a seat at the table. He doesn’t deserve a seat at the table, because he wants to reduce the table to toothpicks.”

Whether farmers like it or not, Martosko said they face an endless battle with HSUS, because “you can’t possibly pacify these guys.”

He also noted that HSUS’s fundraising commercials are cleverly designed to reinforce the organization’s image as a pet care organization and ultimately amount to free public relations.

“The point of these ads you see on TV isn’t to raise money; it’s to break even,” he said.

While most people wrongly believe that HSUS is an umbrella group for local humane societies, Martosko acknowledged that HSUS has a positive public image.

“It’s not enough just to tell your story; you have to tell theirs,” he said.

Ohio Department of Agriculture Director Robert Boggs said the “whole world of agriculture in the U.S. is looking to Ohio” to see how it is handling animal care issues.

Boggs criticized HSUS as a “parental” and “elitist” organization who “literally thinks they know more than the people of Ohio.” Boggs said Gov. Ted Strickland will actively campaign against the group’s proposed ballot measure to undermine the work of the Livestock Care Standards Board.

“I really believe the board that we have can do the job and is something we all can work with,” he said.

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