Friday, December 19, 2008

I had an interesting thing happen to me this week. Once in a while I read Wayne Pacelle’s blog on the HSUS website. It often times gives you a glimpse into their outrageous thinking and lack of knowledge about production agriculture.

The posting I read was about the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) and Wayne was trying to deflect the criticism of his organization that was published in a full page ad in the New York Times on December 11 by the CCF. CCF also launched a new website that chronicles the agenda and tactics of the HSUS. Apparently he couldn’t dispute the claims very well since he spent most of the time attacking CCF. He claims that there is no disclosure on CCF’s funding. I knew enough that CCF is a 501 c (3) which means they have to file financial reports with the IRS and those reports are available for public inspection. Keep in mind that these are the same reports that HSUS is required to file. No more, no less.

So I left a comment that said CCF had to file these reports and they were available for anyone to see. I also asked if Wayne wasn’t telling truth about this, what else should we be wondering about. After a day, my comment still wasn’t posted but I received an email from Bernie Unti, a Senior Policy Advisor at HSUS and Wayne’s special assistant.

His page long response was quite interesting, especially when he questioned my ability to think critically. After reading his email, it is quite apparent that their biggest fear is people who can think for themselves rather than falling in step with their group. It is also apparent that HSUS will not print or acknowledge on their blog when they receive comments contrary to their opinion.

If anyone ever tries to post a comment and has a similar situation, please let me know so we can post it on this blog. It’s probably your only chance of getting on the web.

Below is the response I received from Bernie.
Your Friend in Ag,

Hello, Troy,

The blog editor passed on your short comment to me for reply, and I am glad to provide one. There's a lot that could be said about CCF and its operations, but here's a useful link that says a lot of it: <> . You can find other sites to learn more about the group and its unusual history.

As you point out, the CCF has 501(c)(3) status, and files a 990. But as someone who reads it each year, I have never found it very enlightening. Who gets the salaries? What is the precise relationship to Rick Berman's corporate PR firm? What is the CCF's specific charitable purpose? Does Berman's company just collect money from big companies and channel it into the (c)(3) to carry out PR wars under the guise of being a charity, like the Boys Clubs or the Girl Scouts of America? Do you think that's really legitimate? I don't.

I would assume that as a rancher you have strong convictions about animal agriculture and the reforms that The HSUS has been trying to introduce since 1954. That's right, 1954, when the organization first formed to push for passage of the Humane Slaughter Act. There is nothing -- nothing -- new about our working on farm animals, something I hope that you will take care to point out when you write about us or go out and talk in public. In the same vein, there is nothing -- nothing -- new about our criticisms of intensive confinement agriculture. The HSUS has been critical of such methods since the 1970s. What's different now is that the broader society is coming to recognize the validity of our position, and the environmental, animal welfare, public health, and national security dimensions of food production are coming under greater scrutiny. Those who would oppose the reforms under way, and we must count the CCF among them, are swimming against the tide, and doing the nation harm in the longer run.

I'm deeply sorry that an apparently decent and rational person as yourself would accept without scrutiny the fast and loose approach to the facts taken by the CCF. Do you really believe, on the basis of the six degrees from Kevin Bacon game that CCF played in its recent NYT advert, that I am a terrorist or employed by a terrorist organization? That's an unbelievably coarse and malicious perspective to take in the post-September 11 era. They're scrambled up on the basics in respect to all seven of the seven "facts" in their latest fact sheet.

Personally, I think that the traditional producer has little to fear and much to gain from the reforms under consideration. I'm personally hopeful that we'll see the incoming administration appoint a Secretary of Agriculture who supports, humane, sustainable, and organic method of production throughout our national agricultural system.


Bernard Unti, Ph.D.

Senior Policy Adviser

Special Assistant to the CEO

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