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Understanding our adversaries

By Holly Martin

In the world of animal rights, you would be hard-pressed to find two people more vocal about the issue than Wayne Pacelle and Trent Loos. They are passionate and intense. But what you might not know is that they agree on more than you might think.

You know Trent as a High Plains Journal columnist, radio personality and livestock producer from Nebraska. He’s an outspoken advocate for the agriculture industry.

Wayne Pacelle is the CEO and president of the Humane Society of the United States. He’s the leader of the organization with $160 million in revenue.

The two spoke recently at the National Conference of State Legislators Fall Forum. The NCSL is a group of legislators from across the country who represent us at a state level.

Not long after it was announced that Pacelle and Loos would be on the program together, we started hearing from farmers and ranchers. They wanted to see their presentations. There were comments like, “It would be great if I could be there,” and “I wish I could see that!”

And, quite frankly, I wished I could see it too. While we couldn’t buy an airline ticket for each one of our readers, we did want to do the next best thing. We recorded the presentation so you could see it.

The hour-long discussion is available at While that’s a long video, it’s worth watching.

If I were a mainstream journalist, here’s where I would tease the video to make it sound like the two nearly came to blows. In fact, the exact opposite was true. You might be surprised at what the two actually have in common and it is, at the core, what animal rights is all about: Animals should be treated with respect.

The differences come in at what treatment constitutes respect.

In this particular presentation, their comments are restricted to “ag gag” laws—the laws that states are implementing to prevent undercover video at farm and ranch operations.

Transparency is a good thing, I think we can all agree. And in fact, I think Loos and Pacelle both agree on that particular issue.

But what makes this video worth the time to watch is to compare and contrast the thought process behind what they believe.

It could be argued that HSUS is worlds away from transparency when they lead their contributors to believe they provide funding for humane animal shelters, when shelter support is less than 1 percent of their annual budget.

And by the same turn, I would suspect that Pacelle and HSUS don’t believe livestock producers are being truly transparent in the way we handle animals on our farms.

Take the time to watch the video and instead of putting up your guard immediately, truly listen. It will give you a much better understanding of the organization’s methods.

What is it they say about adversaries? It’s not cowardly to understand your adversary’s intentions. In fact, that seems like a pretty good strategy to me.

Holly Martin can be reached by phone at 1-800-452-7171, ext. 1806, or by email at

Date: 12/16/2013


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