The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) hired a small army of contract lobbyists to further their interests in the state of Missouri. Even after spending millions and barely passing Proposition B in the November election, it seems HSUS is not through with our state.
During their campaign on behalf of Proposition B, HSUS assured us they were just concerned with dogs and had no interest in livestock production in the state. These assurances must come with a sell-by date, because they have most certainly expired. Contract lobbyists are now working the halls of the Capitol urging the defeat of House Bill No. 100, a bill that guarantees Missourians’ rights to continue to “raise livestock in a humane manner.”
Heck, the bill would put the humane treatment of livestock into Missouri law. One would reasonably assume that the Humane Society ought to favor humane treatment, but I guess not. The bill requires Missouri farmers to use “generally accepted scientific principles” in their production of livestock. Again, it seems an organization that purports to fight for the welfare of four-legged creatures ought to be in favor of science, but the HSUS has little use for science when emotion is so much more effective in separating the organization’s supporters from their money.
In the past few days, I visited with farmers who struggled through the recent blizzard to care for their livestock. One of my friends spent the day of the blizzard struggling through snow drifts to make sure his hogs had enough feed, ending the day stranded in the ditch while he attempted to drive through the white-out conditions. He made it home safely, but he was willing to risk his life to care for his animals.
Another friend spent the day on crutches feeding hogs. He wasn’t supposed to be working, but he was the only member of his family who could reach their hogs because of the dangerous travel conditions. Sensible regulations on animal care may be necessary, but consumers should never, ever forget farmers routinely put the welfare of their animals before anything else, including their own safety.
HSUS believes perfection was reached in the fall of 2010 with the narrow passage of Proposition B. The organization argues the people have spoken, the results are engraved on stone tablets, and there is no need for improvement. But in the same election, the people of the state voted in a legislature empowered to work the people’s will. If that legislature, in its wisdom, decides there is a need to improve upon the work of the people, it is their right and indeed their responsibility to do so.
Initiative petitions are a valued part of democracy, but it is not possible for initiatives to do more than reflect a rather rough approximation of the people’s will. Bills under consideration to amend Proposition B will strengthen the ability of present law to protect dogs being raised by Missouri’s licensed dog breeders. That is a very good thing, and will more accurately reflect the will of an electorate concerned about the treatment of animals, but not expert in the crafting of legislation.
(Blake Hurst, of Westboro, Mo., is the president of Missouri Farm Bureau, the state’s largest farm organization.)