The Humane Society of the United States, or HSUS as it is commonly referred to, is an organization that has recently set its eye on Ohio agriculture. To really understand what this means for Ohio, we must look at some of the other states that HSUS has targeted.
Most recently, California has fallen victim to untruthful propaganda and misleading information in the form of what was called Proposition 2. Proposition 2 basically outlawed the use of several modern animal agriculture practices. These are gestation crates for female pigs, veal stalls for calves, and cages for laying hens. I will admit that the terminology of these individual housing units may not paint a pretty picture in one’s mind but they do serve many purposes for livestock and humans alike.
Individual housing units for livestock are a critical production method for livestock not only in California and Ohio, but across our country. They 1) provide a safe work environment for farm operators to work around animals; 2) allow operators to more closely monitor an individual animal’s health and dietary needs; 3) protect animals from injuring one another; and 4) control the spread of disease. Without such practices, it would be a challenge for America’s farmers to produce the safe, healthy and affordable food supply for the world. Let’s not overlook the fact that the world relies heavily on the U.S. to fulfill its food needs. In today’s global markets, our ability to feed the masses is one of our strongest assets.
I don’t want to cloud the issue of food production by saying that individual housing units are the only way Ohioans raise livestock because that would simply be untrue. However, individual housing units are the best way to raise some types of livestock so that the American farmer can meet consumer demand and produce an affordable product.
You may choose to buy “free range” eggs or “organic” foods. These are examples of the product choices you, the consumer, have at the grocery store or local farm market. These choices may be one of the most fundamental rights stripped away by this so-called, “animal welfare” group. By eliminating or blocking the use of fundamental, science-based, modern farming practices, we stand to lose the choice of what we would like to purchase for our families to consume.
It is important to speak to the difference between the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and our local humane societies. The two groups are not affiliated. HSUS would like to eliminate animal agriculture, hunting, fishing, zoos, circuses and even pet ownership. I would encourage you to look at the Web site and see for yourself. The local humane societies do good work and we can be proud of what they accomplish on the shoestring budgets that many of them operate. Please distinguish between the two.
Here is something to consider: As I mentioned above, California Proposition 2 banned some of agriculture’s modern production practices. But if these practices were so inhumane, why did HSUS want this proposition to be phased in over the next six years? Why did they not want to end the practices immediately?
The simple truth... By phasing the modern agricultural practices out, it allows HSUS the opportunity to pass legislation in other states before the California regulations take effect and the consumers feel the effects. This California legislation did pass in November 2008. Economically, it will force the egg producers in the state of California to close their doors, move their operations to another state or relocate out of the country. I predict that eggs will have to be shipped into the state and prices will rise at an alarming rate. What worries me even more is the very real possibility that animal agriculture that currently thrives in this country, could find itself moving to other countries such as Mexico where food production is held to a standard that is substantially inferior to ours.
This may seem like an agriculture issue which does not matter to you. It is a consumer issue! The elimination of modern production farming practices will impact your choices and availability of safe, healthy, and affordable food.
Korre Boyer is the organization director for the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation. Additionally, Boyer operates a beef farm with his wife and three children in Lucas, Ohio.