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August 22, 2014

The Price of Progress – How Our Victories Breed Enemies

Precisely because The HSUS is so effective, we are the target of disinformation campaigns from our political adversaries. The king of disinformation is Rick Berman, the guy “60 Minutes” dubbed “Dr. Evil” for his work attacking public interest groups on behalf of anonymous corporations.  

Horse slaughter
Among many successes this year, we prevented the resumption of horse slaughter for human consumption on U.S. soil.
Photo: Kathy Milani/The HSUS

If you’re new to Berman’s brand attacks on The HSUS, the Center for Public Integrity has a new investigative piece on the topic – building on exposés done by Bloomberg, The Boston Globe, TIME magazine, The Agitator, and many other sources. Here’s a man who’s shilled for interests defending drunk driving, smoking in public places, tanning beds, trans fats, the consumption of mercury-laden fish by pregnant women, and now a wide range of animal abuse – with a particular focus on defending pig factories, the mistreatment of elephants in traveling circuses, puppy mills, and seal slaughter.

Of course, there’s no mystery why animal abusers fund Berman’s attacks on us. Many businesses grounded on animal exploitation believe our work threatens their profits. For instance, consider just a snapshot of some of our accomplishments over the last year:

  • Just yesterday, Nestlé, the world’s biggest food company, announced that it will cleanse its supply chain of animal products that come from the most abusive factory farming practices.  Earlier this year, we joined the biggest names in meat production – Cargill, Smithfield Foods, and Tyson Foods – in announcing movement away from gestation crates.
  • We helped pass felony-level penalties for cruelty in South Dakota – making it the 50th state to adopt severe penalties for animal abuse. We also made it a federal crime to attend or bring a child to an animal fight.  And we helped secure a landmark federal appeals court ruling upholding the federal law banning the sale of depictions of animal cruelty.
  • We prevented the resumption of horse slaughter for human consumption on U.S. soil, and we have brought together more than 350 U.S. Senators and Representatives in support of a bill to halt the barbaric soring of Tennessee Walking Horses.
  • We led the fight to kill the King Amendment – a nefarious provision in the Farm Bill that could have nullified anti-cruelty laws across the nation. This year alone, we’ve had a hand in passing more than 84 state laws, targeted at gas chambers for cats and dogs, shark finning, the trade in ivory, the pet trade in dangerous exotics, fox penning, and so much more.    
  • We helped secure a landmark World Trade Organization ruling upholding the EU’s ban on the import of slaughtered seals and a landmark International Court of Justice ruling striking down much of Japan’s commercial whaling program, along with over a dozen other legal victories for animals.

Most people following our work in the field know of Berman’s charade. There’s one character, however, whose charade is less well known, and that’s Brad Miller, the long-time director of the Humane Farming Association. He spent most of the 1990s and the first decade of this century attacking Farm Sanctuary, a highly reputable organization fighting factory farming. Within the last decade, Miller has focused his attacks on The HSUS – at the very same time that we were amassing our biggest advances against the industrialization of agriculture.

Miller and HFA have no record to speak of in securing tangible gains for farm animals. While California is HFA’s home state, the group refused to support Prop 2 (the groundbreaking campaign to ban battery cages, gestation crates, and veal crates), instead choosing to remain neutral and allow the rest of the animal movement to fight the agribusiness industry. In similar anti-factory farming ballot campaigns in Arizona, Ohio and Florida, HFA was a bystander while other groups such as The HSUS, Farm Sanctuary, and Mercy For Animals shouldered the burden of advancing farm animals' interests. In fact, while HFA condemns farm animal protection bills that it thinks don't go far enough, it has never taken part in any campaign that has succeeded in banning any farm animal confinement practice anywhere.

HFA even opposed successful efforts to ban the sale and production of foie gras in California, which will save countless ducks and geese from hideous abuse and took effect in July 2012. HFA not only opposed the measure to outlaw this hideous factory farming practice that causes extreme animal suffering; in fact, Miller’s organization took out advertisements against the bill urging its defeat. HFA is an organization founded upon hollow rhetoric and direct mail fundraising, one that only pretends to have a farm animal defense program. 

Here at The HSUS, we wear attacks from Berman and Miller as badges of pride. We’re in the crosshairs of those who oppose the advancement of animals precisely because we are achieving transformational change. 

And I want you to know that no matter how loud our opponents are and no matter how dishonest their attacks, we won’t be deterred by them. With your support, we will continue to confront the worst cruelties to animals, no matter how powerful the abuser, or how deceptive they are.

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