Threats from the Humane Society of the United States that would affect animal agriculture and our food supply in the United States was a serious part of the discussion at a recent Trends and Issues Conference sponsored by the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation in Columbus.
The Humane Society of the United States is the largest animal rights group in the United States. Their stated long-range goal is to get all meat, milk, dairy and poultry products off our dinner tables. They are not an organization that provides much if any help to local humane societies.
Livestock interests in Ohio were unanimous in their agreement that action is needed to let consumers know the serious implications of possible HSUS actions to their food supply. Through HSUS actions, if successful, livestock farmers would essentially be put out of business, taking all animal products away from consumers.
Brent Porteous, president of the Ohio Farm Bureau, said that HSUS is the biggest threat facing animal agriculture in Ohio today.
"We need to be very clear that their goal is to eliminate animal products from our diets," he said.
Actions in taken by HSUS in other states have restricted approved, humane practices for livestock farmers. This is their approach to eventually eliminating all animal agriculture.
Can you imagine dinner with no meat or milk on the table or no ice cream for dessert, healthful foods we have regularly enjoyed?
Jack Fisher, executive vice president of OFBF, mentioned serious implications of federal legislation that would ban horse slaughter for meat in the U.S. While we don't eat horse meat, many of our Canadian and European friends do. Horse meat from this country has been exported to them, providing a market for older, unwanted horses.
As a result of this threatened federal legislation, all three horse slaughter plants in the U.S. closed, eliminating the market for unwanted horses. Thousands of them have been turned lose to suffer and die of starvation.
If this unfortunate federal legislation is passed, the animal rights groups will try more approaches to limit animal agriculture practices.
HSUS was asked by an equine group if they would use some of their millions of dollars to build horse sanctuaries for these abandoned animals since they were one of the animal rights groups that sponsored this legislation. So far they have refused.
Livestock groups and farm organizations across Ohio are making plans to let Ohio consumers know the impact of HSUS actions. Back in February, HSUS said that unless Ohio livestock interests did what they wanted, they would be taking some kind of action in the state soon.
Another topic of interest at this conference was the 2008 Food, Conservation and Energy Act, often called the Farm Bill. Dr. Carl Zulauf from The Ohio State University highlighted some of the changes from the 2002 Bill.
He said the main emphasis is the focus on helping farmers manage risk rather than income payments. Because of weather and price swings, agriculture is a high risk business. He also said more than two-thirds of the funding in the Bill goes for food and nutrition, not farm programs.
Dr. Garth Boyd from Canco Company talked about climate change and carbon trading. He said that since 1950, the average temperature around the world has increased one degree. This is not catastrophic but politicians are playing on this.
Carbon trading will become a big issue and expensive, increasing costs of living for every one. Agriculture, however, could benefit.
Advisory committee members divided into small groups for the afternoon to make policy suggestions for the coming year for Ohio Farm Bureau.
Parker works with the local Farm Bureau Board and is an independent writer for the Tribune Chronicle.