In my recent issue of High Plains Journal, I read with interest Holly Martin’s column, “A wolf in a bonnet.”
The truth is humane, sustainable family farmers are joining The Humane Society of the United States. As a hog farmer from Missouri, I know that the enemy is not The HSUS. Since I started farming, the policies and business practices of industrialized agriculture corporations have driven over 90 percent of the hog farmers off the land, while at the same time caging almost 5 million sows into 2-foot by 7-foot cages. Because of this industrialization, we have lost over 1,000,000 American family farmers. The HSUS did not put these farmers out of business. Not one of the farmers on The HSUS agriculture councils cages sows in gestation crates, cages laying hens in a space smaller than a notebook size piece of paper, locks veal calves into a veal crate or needlessly cuts off the tails of dairy cows. Rather, they raise animals using higher animal welfare standards and they work to help connect other humane-minded farmers to the growing consumer demand for such products.
You can talk about “happy cows,” but I know that my sows are happier than those suffering on factory farms. This is a growing market. More than 60 major food companies, including ConAgra, have announced plans to eliminate gestation crates from their pork supply chains. Even the American Farm Bureau–funded study found that 89 percent of American consumers believe food companies that require farmers to treat their animals better are doing the right thing.
As the nation’s largest and most effective animal protection organization, The HSUS strives to protect all animals. We combat the root causes of animal suffering on a scale that local organizations cannot reach themselves. We don’t run all the local shelters, just like the American Farm Bureau doesn’t run all the farms, and the National Rifle Association doesn’t run all the gun clubs. We have a national and international mission, and we confront large-scale abuses like puppy mills, animal fighting, and factory farming. We recognize the important role shelters play, so we support them through training, educational resources, grants and hands-on help.
—Joe Maxwell, Missouri hog farmer and VP Outreach and Engagement, The Humane Society of the United States