Agriculture Council Formed to Unite Farmers, Animal Welfare Advocates in Top Animal Production State
The Humane Society of the United States’ Iowa Agriculture Council will promote dialogue and grassroots organizing to help animals and farmers
DES MOINES, Iowa (Nov. 13, 2013) – To advance humane and sustainable agricultural practices in Iowa, The Humane Society of the United States has formed an agriculture council of family farmers and ranchers who will act as an advisory body. The HSUS’s Iowa Agriculture Council will work to improve the welfare of farm animals, to increase the number of family farmers in Iowa and advocate for strong rural communities.
The HSUS’s Iowa Agriculture Council will pursue market opportunities for farmers and ranchers whose agricultural practices adhere to animal welfare standards, as well as facilitate a dialogue with individual farmers, ranchers and the organizations that represent them. The group will also highlight farmers who are good stewards of their animals and land, and advise The HSUS on issues affecting Iowa’s family farmers.
Chris Petersen, a founding member of the new council who raises Berkshire hogs near Clear Lake, said: “As an Iowa farmer, I believe family farmers and ranchers have much common ground with The HSUS when it comes to animal husbandry treatment. It’s a positive step to work together to address the future of animal agriculture and find solutions to animal welfare challenges.”
Eric Swafford, director of rural development and outreach for The HSUS, said: “Working with this council, we can help improve farm animal welfare and pursue market opportunity for humane, sustainable Iowa producers. We are honored to have many family farmers as our allies and to work with advisors who are directly involved in agriculture.”
Iowa leads the U.S. in pork production and number of pig farms; however, that number is in decline. In 40 years, the number of Iowa hog farms decreased by 51,252, while the number of hogs produced has risen. Nationwide, since 1980, the number of hog farms has dropped by 91 percent. The rise of industrial-scale production has driven many farmers off the land and the animals into intensive confinement. Farm odors are common in Iowa, while soil erosion and runoff have polluted the state’s waters, rural communities weakened because of the demise of so many family-run businesses, and breeding sows are virtually immobilized in cramped gestation crates. The council will work to improve the welfare of these confined animals.
The HSUS advocates compassionate eating – or the Three Rs: “reducing” or “replacing” consumption of animal products, and “refining” our diets by choosing products from sources that adhere to higher animal welfare standards, including the members of this new ag council. The HSUS urges consumers to place greater value on humane, sustainable agriculture, and individuals who do exhibit actual farming skills and who provide better care for their animals.
The organizing members of the Iowa Agriculture Council of The HSUS are Petersen; Garry Klicker, a third-generation farmer in Bloomfield; Marian Kuper, who raises beef calves in Hardin County; Gary Hoskey, a cattle and pig farmer in Montour; John Gilbert, whose Iowa Falls operation includes pigs and a dairy herd; and Tom Frantzen, a cattle and pig farmer in New Hampton.
Media Contact: Samantha Miller, smiller, 301-258-1417
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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation’s largest animal protection organization, rated the most effective by its peers. Since 1954, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. We rescue and care for tens of thousands of animals each year, but our primary mission is to prevent cruelty before it occurs. We’re there for all animals, across America and around the world. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — on the Web at humanesociety.org.