Fortune-Teller: Big Gains on Animal Welfare

By on April 9, 2015 with 7 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

Fortune has just published a pretty extraordinary round-up of our high-impact work with the world’s largest food retail corporations. The piece details the work of Josh Balk, Matt Prescott, and other members of  the HSUS Farm Animal Protection team who have worked so expertly with more than 100 of the biggest names in food retail to get them to end purchasing of eggs from hens in cages and pork from facilities confining breeding sows, among other reforms. I encourage you to read about this remarkable litany of achievements, which Fortune calls a “case study in the art of advocacy and negotiation.”

The latest of our successes came Tuesday, with the announcement from Hilton Worldwide about its commitment to sourcing eggs from only cage-free operators. That move, and dozens of others we’ve influenced prior to that, shows the humane economy at work – as companies see that treating animals better is not only the right thing to do, but increasingly the superior economic move, too. I also wrote recently about how consumer and legislative pressure compelled Ringling Bros. to retire its elephants, and how SeaWorld’s revenues and share prices are falling as it stubbornly clings to a business model based on confining orcas in swimming pools too small for the biggest predators on the planet.

The Fortune article is also a stunning repudiation of the claims and work of former tobacco lobbyist Richard Berman, who has been waging an anemic, years-long campaign to rebrand these coffin-sized cages used to confine mother pigs for most of their lives as “maternity pens.”

But Berman’s failure has been almost complete in this realm, with dozens of the biggest names in food retail phasing out their buying of pork from operations that use gestation crates. Here’s a guy who, for years, said he represented “food and beverage companies and restaurants” but has showed no ability to stem or turn the tide with nearly the full roster of names in the business. In the process, he showed himself to be thoroughly ineffective and with his exaggerated claims about his work, he further frayed the threadbare credibility he had at the outset of his gun-for-hire campaign.

Berman was at it again yesterday, taking credit for severing an HSUS affinity card program with Discover. The trouble is, Discover ended this affinity program – along with affinity programs with 13 other non-profits – five weeks ago. Discover publicly announced on March 3rd that it was “discontinuing affinity programs with 14 organizations and universities to better align resources with the company’s strategic initiatives.” Despite the termination of the affinity card programs, The HSUS received  $1 million from Discover to support our life-saving work. The fact that Berman only just noticed this old news, and is now trying to claim it as a victory, even as we receive $1 million from this successful program, is as brazen a mischaracterization as you’ll see in contemporary public-relations battles.

While Berman has been fighting us and squandering resources from animal-abuse industries, HSUS revenues were up $10 million in 2014 despite his claims to be hurting us financially.  More importantly,  in the  very time frame of his activism against us, we’ve helped to make malicious cruelty and dogfighting a felony in every state, and cockfighting illegal everywhere. We’ve helped save millions of dogs and cats from puppy mills and euthanasia, and millions more pigs and chickens from cruelty on factory farms, and hundreds of thousands of seals from clubbing and shooting. We’ve spared or improved the lives of countless animals in laboratories, in the wild,  and in other settings.

Of course there are still challenges, and there are other retrograde actors at work. On Tuesday, the Montana state senate rejected a measure to criminalize attending a dogfight out of a bizarre and false concern that this would somehow affect rodeos or agriculture in the state. You can rest assured, though, that in Montana and everywhere else, The HSUS will work tirelessly to turn around that vote and to put a stop to cruelty to animals wherever it flourishes. And we do so with more legislators, more businesses, and more citizens of every kind of background behind us.

Farm Animals, Opposition

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  1. Berman and Company Blunders Again - Stop HumaneWatch | April 10, 2015
  1. Phyllis Becker says:

    Yay, HSUS!!! Thanks for the good news, and thanks for ALL you’re doing to help animals!

  2. Sheridan Brown says:

    These “retrograde actors” is the perfect description for those who continue to participate in animal abuse.
    Apparently they do not realize that the tide is has turned against them.

  3. BarbG says:

    You need to look into Sea World which has bought time on one of television channels and is running commercials telling the world how well they treat the Orcas claiming they love the whales and they would never mistreat them. I live in Washington state and I saw the ad on Wed night. I haven’t seen it tonight. They may be running it only in a few states but I’m sure they know that Washington was the state where most of their Orca breeding stock came from.

  4. Pamela Bertsch says:

    Berman doesn’t sound like the brightest bulb in the chandelier. I’m so proud of The HSUS for persevering against such lies and vicious attacks by him, and glad to see donations up despite his hateful work against animal welfare for God’s animals.

    • Clova Abrahamson says:

      Berman has already made a tidy fortune smearing worthy charities, like Mothers Against Drunk Driving and especially the HSUS, for clients who he declines to name.

      And he is still sucking in the unwary and his smear tactics are still being used by those who are willing to grossly abuse animals in the name of greater profits.

      Perhaps the question is whether he is “slipping” or did he just see another chance to rake in some more bucks from his clients, without regard to what he could deliver for them.

  5. Adrienne Bishop says:

    In response to BarbG’s comment, I also saw the SeaWorld commercial on Wednesday night. I live in Arizona. The actors who spoke sounded very stilted and artificial. Very creepy.

    Thank you HSUS for all your great work for animals!

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