MFB Meeting Highlights Dangers Of Puppy Mill Legislation
By Echo Menges
The Missouri Farm Bureau hosted their annual regional meeting for Knox County Farm Bureau members Wednesday, August 25, 2010 in the cafeteria at the Knox County R-1 High School.
MFB Marketing and Commodities Director, Kelly Smith, addressed the crowd, of approximately 50 people, about the many challenges Missouri farmers are facing and focused on the campaigns being waged against production agriculture industries by organizations like PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and HSUS (Humane Society of the United States).
Smith showed dozens of examples of pictures, slogans, and ads used by organizations like HSUS calling the articles “propaganda” aimed at turning American hearts and minds against the agriculture industry. He accused the organizations of showing graphic pictures of dead animals, which he says were taken out of context, and using them as examples of animal cruelty to promote lies to Americans as part of a massive national campaign to take meat off the table all over the country.
Smith pointed out how HSUS is coming after Missouri, specifically aiming at Missouri agriculture, warning members about the “Puppy Mill Act” which will be voted on by Missourians this November. He accused HSUS of hijacking the “Humane Society” name to dupe people into thinking they were affiliated with the many Humane Society animal adoption shelters.
According to Smith the Puppy Mill Act/Prop B is nothing more than a mere “foot in the door” of Missouri agriculture for HSUS. He told local farmers if Prop B passes in Missouri the steaks will soon rise much higher and all of Missouri agriculture would be in jeopardy.
“They want you to think they’re saving cute little dogs and cats.” Said Smith. “Dogs and cats are just the beginning. Next it will be the chickens and pigs and before you know it, it will be you and your farm they’re trying to outlaw.”
Smith told the crowd HSUS and PETA are mainly lobbyist organizations. He pointed out that of the millions of dollars raised by HSUS each year not even one percent of the money they raise actually goes toward helping dogs and cats. According to Smith more than 99 percent of their money goes toward salaries and anti-agriculture “propaganda” and now that they have the Proposition B on the November ballot they are more dangerous to Missouri agriculture than
See HSUS, Page 10
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“If you’re going to be in production agriculture these are issues you are going to have to deal with.” Said Smith. “You have been drug into a battle you don’t want to be in.”
Smith’s message to local farmers was more like a warning. Two local politicians, District One State Rep. Brian Munzlinger(R) and District 18 State Senator, Wes Shoemyer(D), who also attended the meeting, eerily echoed the same message.
“These groups are coming at us from all different directions.” Said Munzlinger. “We all need to stick together in this fight.”
Shoemyer told the Farm Bureau crowd about how HSUS representatives told the Missouri Legislature the Puppy Mill Act was the only piece of legislation they were aiming to pass in Missouri “for now”.
Shoemyer said, “These people (HSUS), without any consideration of their fellow man, will do great, great harm to our country. We have to fight them. This is about preserving our rights. This is about preserving our way of life. I hope you get involved in this fight.”
According to Smith the best defense Missouri farmers have against groups like HSUS and the push to “take meat production out of America” is for people to form a “united front against them” and to fight back by not giving them money, supporting or patronizing groups who do, and by educating themselves about what’s really driving Prop B and telling everyone they know the truth about HSUS and Prop B.
“If we engage and we engage as a group together we can win, but we have to take the time to engage.” Said Smith. “Now is the time to educate yourselves.”
I took Smith’s advice and did some digging of my own about the “Puppy Mill Act”/Prop B and the claims made by Smith at the Missouri Farm Bureau’s annual meeting.
First I contacted one of the Humane Society’s animal adoption centers in Adair County. The representative I spoke with told me the Adair County Humane Society was, “absolutely NOT” affiliated with the HSUS.
I also contacted HSUS. They put me in touch with their State Director for Missouri and Campaign Manager, Barbara Schmitz, who also works with Missourian’s for the Protection of Dogs/Yes on Prop B.
Schmitz told me, “Proposition B is about Puppy Mills and Puppy Mills only.” Adding, “Saying that it starts with dogs and cats and moves onto another issue has no basis.”
But according State Rep. Munzlinger, if HSUS gets Prop B passed in Missouri, “They will come after livestock.” He said they’ve already done it in several other states using the initial “Puppy Mill” ballot question as a springboard to try and shut agriculture down.
HSUS representative Schmitz said, “Missouri’s laws governing large scale breeding facilities are vague and they’re inadequate.”
But State Rep. Munzlinger says the many dog-breeding facilities in the state are already well regulated and are a vital aspect of Missouri’s economy.
I asked Schmitz if the organization hijacked the “Humane Society” name to make people think they had something to do with the many Humane Society shelters across the country, but was unable to get a straight answer. Schmitz insisted HSUS had been around since “1954” and said they did an enormous amount of work in conjunction with what Humane Society adoption centers are doing all over the country and she talked about working “along side” them, though the Humane Society representative I spoke with adamantly denied having any association to HSUS whatsoever.
Schmitz said, “I know we have broad support from people from all walks of life.” Adding, “We have support from 89 percent of all Missourians.” Which she attributed to a poll conducted by the HSUS, but I could not find anything to support her claim around here. So I conducted a poll of my own.
Here in Edina I couldn’t find one person who would go on record in support of Prop B. Not one. I asked everyone I saw throughout the day Friday, August 27, 2010. Most of the people I asked didn’t know anything abut Proposition B or HSUS. The few who did were completely against it.
I asked Schmitz to put me in-touch with one of the many farmers she claimed know who support Prop B, asking specifically for a farmer from Knox County. I’m still waiting for one to call me.
Finally, I talked to Agri-Business Specialist and Knox County Program Director, Karisha Devlin, from the University of Missouri Extension Office in Edina. What she told me was completely in line with Smith’s message to Missouri Farm Bureau members in Knox County.
“What HSUS has done in other states is they start out with dogs and cats and then they move into agriculture. This puppy mill legislation is just a way to get their foot in the door and if it does pass they will turn their eye to Missouri agriculture. “If HSUS gets their way, animal agriculture will be driven out of the United States. It affects everyone from producers to consumers. There are a lot of people who still don’t realize what’s happening.” Said Devlin. “By the time people wake up it may be too late. These are the first steps toward outlawing animal agriculture.”