Inside D.C.

HSUS Steps in it Again

After battling animal rightists for nearly 30 years, I should be unfazed by any action, statement or stunt such hardliners put in front of the public.  However, this week, the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) offered us a major lesson in how NOT to win friends and influence people, and left me stunned.

It all has to do with HSUS apparently believing that having bullied retailers into jumping on the cage-free egg bandwagon – which I still predict will come back bite those retailers, not to mention consumers – the world’s largest animal rights group can dictate bigger, badder changes in how the food industry operates.  This week HSUS tried a stealth legislative move to force the Department of Defense (DOD) into a Meatless Monday kind of operation, the upshot being denying more than 2 million active duty military and civilian  DOD employees meat one day a week at DOD cafeterias.

This HSUS legislative ploy was as ham-handed as ever and failed.  Thanks to a successful House floor amendment by Rep. Adrian Smith (R, NE) attached to the FY2017 DOD appropriations bill, the good groundwork of Sen. Joni Ernst (R, IA), and collective industry opposition, HSUS was ignored by Congress.

The goal of Meatless Mondays as embraced by HSUS is to get big institutional buyers – school systems, hospital chains, universities, etc. – to cut back on meat and dairy procurement so as to erode the economic base of animal agriculture.  HSUS says Meatless Monday is healthier for you and the planet, and has dedicated more than 15 employees to getting that message out.  It smugly reminds us the U.S. Coast Guard Academy embraces the meat-free program.

The HSUS language was buried in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) reauthorization and would have shifted DOD food procurement procedures.  HSUS has tried to achieve similar goals in the past and failed, most notably at USDA in the first Obama term and the House cafeterias when Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D, CA) was Speaker.

Ernst tried and failed to amend the NDAA reauthorization on the Senate floor to require DOD to offer military personnel “meat options every day that meet or exceed the nutritional standards as established in the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans” or lose funding to implement any changes in food procurement.  Said Ernst:  “The push for Meatless Mondays in our military is misguided at best, and goes against dietary guidelines.  Our men and women in uniform should have the option to consume the protein they need, including meat, on a daily basis.”

Ernst has cards HSUS can’t play when it comes to activists trying to force reductions in DOD meat purchases.  First, she’s an Iowa farmer; second, she’s the first female retired National Guard Lieutenant colonel to serve in Congress.  Here’s what HSUS told Politico, a Capitol Hill news service:

“Really, Sen. Ernst seems more interested in the agribusiness in her state than the fitness of our military.  Everyone knows that eating more plant-based meals is good for public health,” said Paul Shapiro, HSUS vice president for farm animal protection.  Newsflash – not “everyone” buys that line.

It’s one thing to go after a major agriculture Senator for defending animal agriculture. That’s politics.  It seems to me it’s quite another thing to question Col. Ernst’s dedication or motivation in protecting the health, welfare and right of choice for the U.S. military.

Ernst’s effort was picked up by Smith of Nebraska.  He went to the House floor explained how goofy the language in NDAA is and offered an amendment to withhold any DOD budget from being spent on implementing goofy language.  The amendment was so noncontroversial it was accepted on voice vote.

The Smith/Ernst effort was strongly supported by the Farm Animal Welfare Coalition (FAWC), an ad hoc coalition of national agriculture and input organizations which insists any federal action affecting animal agriculture be science-based and actually protect the welfare of producers and their animals.   FAWC’s message to the House was simple:  The meatless Monday gambit is an animal rights political ploy to erode sales of meat and dairy to institutional buyers.  The vote on the Smith amendment means you support farmers and ranchers or you support the animal rights movement.

FAWC members include the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), the American Feed Industry Assn. (AFIA), the American Sheep Industry Assn. (ASIA), the Livestock Marketing Assn. (LMA), the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), the National Renderers Assn. (NRA), and several other groups.

  • It’s getting exhausting fighting the continual propaganda war against the animal rights “true believers” like H$U$’s leadership. They are so insidious and have absolutely no compunction about lying. Fanatics are sure that the end justifies the means, and lying is A-okay to achieve the end game (in this case, eliminating animals from society–food, pets, clothes, etc.).

  • I think Donald Trump has some serious mental problems. It is not just what he has said, but the fact that he is on his third trophy wife, that makes me wonder about his stability. Yet Clinton needs to understand that there are a lot of dissatisfied voters out there. The problem I have with Clinton, is not her honesty, but the way she blew off the coal miners in West Virginia. Everybody wants a clean environment, but if you are going to kill an industry, you better have something to replace the worker’s jobs. She also has missed the fact the the Midwest is in rebellion against crazy animal rights fanatics. Ohio, Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and even Arizona have or are passing laws and even constitutional amendments against the insanity of groups like PeTA, the Humane Society of the United States and the ASPCA’s vegan front Mercy for Animals. If she wants to win in those states, she better learn to address the problems of farmers.

  • Language like this does not appear all by itself in bills. You need to let people know which legislators are responsible for slipping HSUS language into the NDAA reauthorization act. Even if it came from staffers, they need to be identified.

  • I am so glad to see our elected representatives in Congress taking action against the constant barrage of HSUS anti-animal-use bills. This is very heartening. I think it would be very helpful if a coalition of animal industry representatives made a visit to Clinton to explain the problem of the animal rights agenda so that if she becomes president she will not be assisting the HSUS and their buddies.

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