HSUS addresses CSU audience concerning animal welfare and humane treatment
Fort Collins, Colo. – The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) President Wayne Pacelle spoke to a packed crowd at Colorado State University on Jan. 30 concerning the collaboration of agriculture organizations and producers with the HSUS to achieve animal welfare.
The event, sponsored by the Colorado State University Philosophy Department, looked at animal welfare and humane treatment of livestock – a big concern to today’s producers and consumers.
Pacelle used Wyoming Premium Farm’s, a Tyson Foods provider, in an example of how the HSUS is working to establish humane treatment in all animal agriculture production facilities.
The investigation was one of many that the HSUS has conducted and Pacelle said, “Their investigations are not just to stop aberrational abuses of these animals and malicious conduct by workers, but to look at the routine and customary normal practices and to ask whether it’s acceptable to treat animals in this way.”
He continued, saying, “The American public doesn’t think it’s acceptable to treat animals this way.”
Pacelle talked extensively on felony penalties and how the HSUS has worked with animal organizations and legislative branches to establish malicious cruelty as felony penalties. In 1985, 17 states had felony penalties and now all 50 states have felony penalties of some sort to fight animal cruelty. All 50 have felony penalties for dog fighting, 40 for cock fighting and 48 states have a felony level penalty for animal cruelty.
Colorado State College of Agriculture students joined together before the presentation to listen to members of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association and NCBA on where agricultural organizations stand on certain issues that could be presented. The representatives also briefly educated the students on how to ethically present questions to Pacelle. CSU students and the agriculture community were well represented at the talk and also provided a Colorado Agriculture fact sheet to all attendees.
CSU graduate student in meat science Jordan McHenry said, “The amount of science and research that has been put into current animal agriculture practices to make sure we do our part to the best of our ability is important and needs to be known and recognized.”
Pacelle showed a YouTube video produced by the HSUS and the Agriculture Council of Colorado, showing a good example of cooperation. In the video, various producers and agriculturists are shown caring and being with their animals. The producers talk about the importance of animal agriculture for the land and society as a whole.
Consumers are concerned with where the product comes from, who is producing it and ultimately the humane treatment of the animals involved. In a survey conducted by the Farm Bureau and Oklahoma State University, 95 percent of those surveyed said it was important to them that farm animals are well cared for.
Pacelle said, “The debate is not about whether animals should be raised for food, the debate is whether animals raised for food should be humanely treated.”
As producers, it is our duty to ensure the humane treatment of production animals to keep a positive light on the animal agriculture industry.
Pacelle quoted Temple Grandin during his presentation, saying, “I feel very strongly that we’ve got to treat animals right and that gestation stalls have got to go.”
CSU Meat Science graduate student Erin Karney also noted that representation by agriculture and students was important at the event.
“It is important for agriculture to be represented and for us to make a presence to show HSUS that our concerns should be addressed, as well,” commented Karney.
Upon the end of his speech, Pacelle entertained questions from the public.
When asked if there was a veterinary group that specifically promotes farm animal welfare and why there hasn’t been more pressure by the veterinary community on ending factory farming, Pacelle said, “A lot of the decision-making on farm animal welfare issues is driven by the veterinary sub-groups. The sub-groups working in their disciplines have retarded the veterinary community’s progress on issues. If it was put to the broader veterinary community, most veterinarians would concur that some of these practices are out of line.”
Pacelle was also asked about their annual budget and where the money goes. He responded by re-addressing their four legs of work and that the budget was basically equal in each leg, but their largest component of work is animal care followed closely by public policy. The four legs he promoted were direct care and service, public policy, corporate policy and education and engagement. Animal issues and rescues fall under the direct care and service leg.
UW student comments on Pacelle’s presentation
Kassie Ford, UW student, commented on Pacelle’s presentation, noting that she attended the event with an open mind and armed with facts.
“Before attending Pacelle’s conference, I visited the Humane Society of the United States website to see what issues Pacelle would probably be discussing,” she commented.
“I wanted to keep an open mind during the presentation, but it was hard at times,” Ford continued. “As a pork producer that doesn’t use gestation crates, I felt he did a poor job of explaining his position on the use of gestation crates and instead described pork production in such a manner that made it seem that all swine farmers were abusing their animals.”
Ford also noted that Pacelle also stated a lot of facts during his presentation.
“One that stuck out to me was that AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) is against the use of gestation crates. I did some more research when I got home to see why the AVMA would be against the use of crates because they are very reasonable about taking into account any and all research before taking stands on animal rights and welfare issues,” Ford explained. “I wanted to see what kind of research they had to back their stand. What I found was that the AVMA has not chosen a position on the issue, they are very clear that they are not for nor against the use of gestation crates. They state that the crates, while limiting movement and socializing of the animals, prevents the gilts and sows from fighting, contesting over food, and the aggressive physical encounters that could lead an animal to abort her litter while pregnant. The crates have pros and cons associated with their use, and the AVMA recognizes that fact.”
“I felt it was inappropriate to include a non-affiliated association’s stance on a subject, especially when the 'facts' that he connected with the association were wrong,” she commented.