Dear Wayne Pacelle

Guest blog by Carrie Mess, Wisconsin Dairy Farmer (www.dairycarrie.com)

Reprinted with permission

Dear Wayne,

I hope you’re not offended by my calling you Wayne. You don’t know me but my name is Carrie Mess and I am a Wisconsin Dairy Farmer. A few weeks ago you posted an open letter to Agriculture Journalists and Leaders. While I’m just a blogger and don’t consider myself anywhere near a journalist, I do think of myself as a leader in my community, so I am taking your letter to be directed towards me and my peers.

After reading your open letter, I had a few thoughts that I wanted to share in response. I like your format so I figured an open letter back would work well. Your letter is pretty long winded so I’m just going to pull out a few bullet points to discuss.

  • It’s quite obvious that you don’t care for Rick Berman and Humane Watch. If I was in your current  position after years of being fast and loose with the facts and I suddenly had a group calling my organization out, I wouldn’t like them much either.  I find it funny that you call out Rick Berman for being a lobbyist when HSUS spends millions on lobbying each year.
  • You state that the HSUS is governed by a 27 person board of directors and that those  directors are unpaid volunteers. That sounds about right for a nonprofit  organization to me. However, according to the HSUS      2012 tax filing you make $347,000 a year. Your organization has  another 38 people making over $100,000 a year. I know that my local human society  would be able to make a world of difference with just a fraction of your  salary. How many animals would be helped if you took a pay cut and sent that money on to local shelters?
  • You claim that HSUS has the highest charity rating from the Better Business Bureau  and Charity Navigator. Never mind that the Better Business Bureau is Pass/Fail and seems      to have serious issues with your organization. In the last 12 years, HSUS has only been ranked at the top of Charity Navigator’s scale 50% of time. You also leave out your D grade from Charity Watch.

To read the rest visit http://dairycarrie.com/2014/02/10/dear-wayne-pacelle/

We can all make a difference – one farming story at a time

Stacy and Troy Hadrick

 By Patricia Grotenhuis (with tips from Lilian Schaer)

Everyone has a story to tell, and for Troy and Stacy Hadrick, sharing their story through social media has taken them around the world.

The ranching couple from South Dakota found out the hard way that relying on someone else to tell your story can have unintended consequences.  Since an early media experience in 2002, where an interview with food activist Michael Pollan saw Troy – and the conventional beef industry –  vilified in a feature article, they have vowed to do a better job telling their own story so misunderstandings do not happen again.

“Every single one of us involved in agriculture is a spokesperson,” says Stacy.

Over the years, the couple has found themselves sharing their story with people in the agriculture industry and also with consumers, businesses, activist groups and more.  They are examples of how much one person can do, especially with social media’s ability to allow people to reach so many.
The Hadricks encourage all farmers and ranchers to tell their story.  They stress the importance of bringing your connection to agriculture up when you introduce yourself to someone, opening the gate for conversations.

“Take a couple of minutes to answer questions.  If you’re not excited about the stories you’re telling, they won’t be,” says Troy.

The couple gave both a workshop and a keynote address at the Farm & Food Care Ontario AGM in Waterloo during the month of April.  Speaking to the conference topic, “Building Better Bridges”, they shared a number of stories about how they began advocating for agriculture on a large scale, and the experiences they have had since they began.

Troy and Stacy are daily examples of what they advocate – talking about how important it is to speak up when you hear information being shared which is not factual.  One of the examples of how they have made a difference includes Yellowtail Wine and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).

Upon hearing that Yellowtail donated $100,000 to the HSUS, an animal activist organization (which fronts as a humane society but spends less than half of one per cent of its total budget to help animals, according to Humane Watch) Troy took action.  He began by posting on Yellowtail’s facebook page, simply stating he was an American farmer and the donation would impact his family negatively, as HSUS strives to end animal agriculture.  Troy encouraged family and friends to do the same.

Further reflection reminded Troy that he had a bottle of Yellowtail wine in his cupboard.  He proceeded to create a 54 second video of him dumping the wine on the frozen ground while some of his beef cattle look on, explaining why he is dumping the wine and what impact the Yellowtail donation will have on many American families. You can see the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mCR_J2fWsKA

The video was uploaded to YouTube and the number of views began accumulating. Troy also started receiving attention from both  Australian media and the Australian government.  Unknown to Troy until this point, Yellowtail’s initial donation was part of a larger commitment to donate $300 000 over a three-year period.  Through his short video and the use of social media, Troy prevented an additional $200 000 from being donated and resulted in an apology to the industry from the company. A response from Yellowtail to the negative publicity said that the feedback “was very helpful to us — in fact, it prompted us to specifically choose the areas where we’d most like to celebrate animals. …We hope that you will understand that this allocation of money is a direct result of hearing your concerns.”

“We changed the future course of donations from a multinational company with social media.  That’s the power of social media,” says Troy.

Food and farming story telling tips- written by Lilian Schaer

Prepare a 30-second elevator speech – a quick description of who you are and what you do. Keep it simple by using words and concepts people will understand. Avoid using industry jargon and lingo, be prepared for the questions people will ask once they hear what you do and be aware of the criticism people have of your industry.

“For most people, meeting a farmer is like meeting Big Foot – they’ve heard it exists but have never met one,” says Stacy. “You only get one chance to make a first impression so make sure you adapt your elevator speech to your audience.”

Build a message map. If you’re asked to do an interview or answer questions about what you do, take a few minutes to gather your thoughts. Pick your topic or key point and support it with three key messages and supporting arguments. This technique also works for writing a letter to the editor, talking to your school board or meeting with politicians. Be careful not to overwhelm your audience with complicated messages or too many numbers, but if you don’t have any statistics handy, don’t make them up

“Always take a few minutes to compose yourself and get some points together,” advises Troy. “You can do this anywhere, in the dust on the dash of your pickup, on a napkin, anywhere – and don’t be afraid to have it sitting right in front of you.”

Stay informed. Know what consumers are seeing and hearing and what some of the common myths are about agriculture. To consumers, a farmer is a farmer regardless of what commodity you produce so you’re likely to be asked questions about all sorts of things people hear or see in the news. Be enthusiastic about what you do – if you’re not excited about what you do, no one else will be either.

“Talk with emotion, not fact and science,” says Stacy. “As farmers we’re not used to being emotional but activists and those who are against agriculture use emotion all the time.”

Become involved. Join the groups in your area. This can be a local chamber of commerce, business association or other organization so you can meet people who aren’t part of your regular agricultural world. These venues provide opportunities for you to speak up about who you are and what you do to produce food. The Hadricks also advise farmers to be active in the farm organizations they belong to.

“Take part in setting policy and be there when they need people to do things,” says Stacy. “We’re all busy but think about what you can do to squeeze a little bit more time to do your advocacy.”

 

Guest blog: Ballot measures scuttled

Dan Murphy  

(Dan Murphy is a veteran food-industry journalist and commentator in the United States)

Updated: July 11, 2011 –  Both sides are carefully calling the agreement between the nation’s egg producers and HSUS leadership a “victory.” For industry, that means that two ballot measures set for November that would have asked Oregon and Washington voters to ban the use of cages in egg production will now be withdrawn.

Why? Mostly because the odds of victory were looking less certain for HSUS. Continue reading

Why Farmers should NOT Speak Up

For more than a decade now, there’s been a movement across Canada with a goal of empowering farmers to take a chance, Speak Up, and share their passion for farming with the public – most of whom have no direct connection with food or farming. And we’re happy to report that movement appears to be growing. We’re seeing farmers start blogs, tweet from their tractors, write letters to the editor on topics of importance to them and take a chance on doing more media interviews when we know that they’d much rather be working in their barns or in their fields. Michele Payn-Knoper of Indiana is a farmer and an agricultural advocate who works tireless to champion the farmers’ cause. We especially like this blog post, posted at www.causematters.com earlier this year and reprinted here with permission from her. Michele’s cited a number of the “excuses” she’s heard for farners not speaking up about agriculture – if you have any more, feel free to comment on the blog post below! –  OFAC

 The new year typically starts with motivational tips, hype about resolutions and pressure to make promises of how we’re going to do things differently. Not me. I’m bringing an entirely different perspective on advocacy – a highly sarcastic view on why we SHOULD NOT tell agriculture’s story. Several ag folks from across the U.S. and Canada added to the list on Twitter and Facebook – you’re welcome to post your own comment in the spirit of some fun.
Shhh, there’s no need to tell your story!

15.  Agriculture has little economic contribution – and the American economy is thriving.  After all, 80%+ of the economy isn’t reliant on the agrifood system – and surely your community doesn’t benefit from property taxes and jobs paid by farms.

14. “It’s embarrassing to have people thank you for producing their food. I don’t want people to think I am a corporate shill (every farmer who speaks out is one, right?) says sheep and daughter raiser Venessa in her own Spartan sarcasm.

13. “Who needs consumers anyway? I can still farm without people to buy my grain and animals that eat my grain. I like grain storage.  Those big shiny bins are SO pretty and cheap…” was a heavily sarcastic comment from Sarah Bedgar Wilson, a young farmer in North Dakota (the cold made her do it, I’m sure). Continue reading

Animal Ag Alliance to Yellow Tail: Please Reconsider

Animal Ag Alliance To Yellow Tail: Please Reconsider
02/12/2010 11:05AM

In an effort to assist Yellow Tail Wines in determining its best opportunity to help animals, the Animal Agriculture Alliance has written a letter this week to the company’s owner, Cassella Wines. Yellow Tail Wines announced last week their intent to donate $100,000 to the Humane Society of the United States.

Yellow Tail’s announcement has generated considerable controversy among livestock producers and a backlash against the wine company. “The uproar over the last week has shown that you will undoubtedly lose a significant segment of your American customer base if you continue with your pledge of support for HSUS,” the letter says. Continue reading

The New Wake UP America Radio Show is Your Wake Up Call

Source:
http://www.prweb.com/releases/2009/01/prweb1822754.htm

The recent flow of media about animals being treated cruelly in factory farms, and the up and coming vegetarian movement is covered every Saturday, on Voice America Health & Wellness Network. Listen online, download, even listen on your phone, but don’t miss a single show.

Phoenix, AZ (PRWEB) January 6, 2009 — Every Saturday morning Wake UP America and its expert guests will examine our food choices and talk about the wonderful animals we share the earth with. We will discuss how mega- corporations are destroying our health and polluting our world – and most importantly – the simple solutions that will keep our families healthy and safe, save animals lives, and help our planet at the same time…..

Upcoming Guests on Wake UP America:

January 3rd, 2009 – Wayne Pacelle
Few are in a position to speak for the animals like Wayne Pacelle. As President and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, he leads nearly 10.5 million members and constituents in the mission of celebrating animals and confronting cruelty.

January 10th, 2009 – Ingrid Newkirk
PETA President and cofounder Ingrid Newkirk has led the world’s largest animal rights organization for more than 25 years. Her passion and dedication to making this world a better place for all living beings has inspired countless others to do what they can to help animals.

January 17th – Gary Francione
Gary Francione is professor of law and Nicholas deB. Katzenbach Distinguished Scholar of Law and Philosophy at Rutgers University School of Law in New Jersey. Gary is an author of several books, the newest being, Animals as Persons.

January 24th, Rory Freedman
Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin started a movement when they wrote their best-selling manifesto, Skinny Bitch. Both a wake-up call and a kick in the ass, Skinny Bitch exposed the horrors of the food industry while inspiring people to eat well and enjoy food.

January 31st, Howard Lyman
A successful Montana cattle rancher for nearly four decades, Howard Lyman sold his farm in 1983. Lyman went on to become one of the most prominent activists in the animal rights and environmental movements, authoring 2 books, and travelling over 100,000 miles each year speaking.

About the host:
Tina Volpe is the author of the book The Fast Food Craze, Wreaking Havoc on Our Bodies and Our Animals, and coauthor of The Missing Peace, The Hidden Power of Our Kinship with Animals, scheduled release in Spring, 09. She is a health researcher, speaker, educator/consultant, television guest appearing all over the country, hosted the top rated radio show “Wake Up America” on GlobalTalk Radio, now with Voice America Radio, and published columnist. Tina is now affiliated with PCRM (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine) as a “Heart Health” speaker, and SPEAK (Supporting and Promoting Ethics for the Animal Kingdom), as a “Humane Educator:”. She lives on a ranch in Northern Arizona, supported by her family, and 21 unique animal friends.

Agriculture’s Ride with the Media

Source: Michele Payn-Knoper blog
Posted: 15 Oct 2008 11:59 AM CDT

What a week it’s been for the agrifood business to go on a wile ride with the national popular press. The ride started with Sunday’s edition (October 12) of Food Fights, the New York Times Magazine, with a reported circulation of 1.7 million. Continue reading

California Prop 2 Passes

New rules will close down the state’s egg industry, observers report.

Source: Feedstuffs (11/5/2008)

The California ballot initiative on farm animal housing has passed by a fairly large margin with 63% for to 37% against as of 5:30 a.m. Central with 87% of the vote in. Continue reading

Try to understand … before it's too late

By SALLY SCHUFF, Feedstuffs Magazine, September 15, 2008

HERE is a challenge for the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS): Try to understand the purpose of animal agriculture before you are blamed for a major mistake. Continue reading