Slamming the door on openness
As a reporter, I only grow more curious when someone shuts a door in my face and tells me to go away. I start to wonder what they are hiding and start looking harder for the truth.
That’s the situation I found myself in recently when the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) held a news conference in Des Moines. The animal rights group showed off a batch of dimly-lit undercover videos that they claim proves there is systematic abuse of hens at Iowa’s modern egg farms.
I’ve covered agriculture and food trends for years and thought I might be able to bring a little of that experience and expertise into the press conference. But it wasn’t possible. Because I work for an agriculture-affiliated organization, I was barred from the press conference. It didn’t matter that I was editor of the Spokesman, the most widely circulated newspaper in Iowa. My ties to agriculture made me unwelcome.
I wasn’t alone. People with a lot more expertise than me were also stuck out in the hallway. That included representatives from the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and others affiliated with agriculture.
Why were we kept out? HSUS leader Wayne Pacelle told the Des Moines Register that he shut out ag affiliated folks because he didn’t want “disruptions.” Read More
Pacelle has continually said that the HSUS wants to have conversations with agriculture. Well, Wayne can say whatever he wants, but his actions give us more insight into their true feelings. Representatives from ag organizations weren’t allowed at his press conference in Des Moines last week because he didn’t want any “disruptions”. I think that is really how the world’s wealthiest animal rights organization classifies farmers and ranchers, as a disruption of their main goal to eliminate animal agriculture in this country.