Get your voice back
By Trent Loos
“There seems to be a movement to protective agriculture across the country.” That is a statement made by Wayne Pacelle, the president of the Humane Society of the United States, last week in Washington, D.C., as he and I had the opportunity to address the National Conference of State Legislators.
I responded by saying, “Yes, Wayne, there is a movement to protect agriculture because agriculture is not just the production of some widget or luxury items. It is the conversion of natural resources into the essentials of life. Without agriculture people suffer.”
Pacelle and others like him are masters at making emotionally charged statements that can get the masses stirred up if someone is not there to hold them in check. The other statement that he made earlier in the year to Steve White from our local ABC affiliate NTV was, “Animal welfare may not be in the central psyche of farmers.”
I was able to use those two statements to show just how disconnected from the land and livestock the man truly is. You see the United States farmer did not make the massive progress we did in the past 50 years because we had some vegan, office-ridden elitist telling us how to do our jobs.
We have moved from needing 5 acres of land to feed a person food annually to only one-half acre of land. That was accomplished because farmers/ranchers have few other goals than to find a better way to produce more food using less resources.
Another quote which Pacelle did not use but certainly understands the concept of and utilizes to his advantage is: “I use emotion for many and reserve reason for a few.” That one is credited to Adolph Hitler.
Without question the individuals that currently challenge agriculture know so well how to use their passionate, pleading statements to move the masses without letting the facts get in their way. However, in this presentation more than any in the past I thought Pacelle really showed his hand regarding how he truly does not care for the well-being of animals but rather how the plight of a few can so easily fill his coffers.
He exploits animals like no other and mentioned at the beginning of his photo-laden presentation that the annual budget of HSUS is now $180 million. I have to give him this, he is good at what he does—fundraising. It is simply too bad he has to mislead so many people who really care about animals in order to fill his own pockets.
As easy as it is to get the masses in agriculture riled up when you hold HSUS accountable for their selective portrayals of the truth, I have great concern about another group that may be just as dangerous.
You see, the NCSL meeting we spoke at was actually the Ag Committee meeting within the bigger meeting. The chairperson of the meeting was Wyoming Rep. Sue Wallis. She and I had this discussion after the meeting and we agree that the real challenge we face is not the animal rights money-grubbers but rather the agencies that work for our dearest Uncle Sam.
For example, right now the Bureau of Land Management is in the country telling folks that livestock grazing is destroying sage chicken habitat. There “wisdom” is not substantiated by any facts but even if it were, consider this. If we remove cattle alone from grazing on federal lands, we would displace 1 billion protein meals a year from the domestic food production system. Given that most species that have ever lived are now extinct, is the life of this one bird worth the elimination of that amount of food, fiber, fuel and pharmaceutical production here at home? If you answered “Yes,” you should seek help and do not pass GO. This, my friends, is just one little example from one government agency that is now using emotional pleas against us just like Pacelle.
In summary I will repeat what I believe I have closed this column with every single week for the past 12 years: We must get involved. While I am in the business of quoting people, I will close with the best quote I heard in the past week from my dear friend Matt Rush of Portales, N.M.:
“In absence of our own voice, we are being redefined.”
Editor’s note: Trent Loos is a sixth generation United States farmer, host of the daily radio show, Loos Tales, and founder of Faces of Agriculture, a non-profit organization putting the human element back into the production of food. Get more information at www.FacesOfAg.com, or email Trent at firstname.lastname@example.org.