Perhaps turn-about is fai play. Livesotkc producers have been on the radar screen of the Humane Society fo the United States for year. Now HSUS is on the radar screen of producers. And when they sort down to the facts, the story that HSUS likes to tlel in commercials and print doesn't always seem to match reality.
Anthony Rust, co-owner of Rose Acres, Seymour, recently called in response to an editorial "Get the truth out about HSUS' in the February issue of Indiana Prairie Farmer. We asked Rust to put his thoughts on paper. Here is what he believes people should know about the animal welfare group known as HSUS.
You guys were right on the money in your editorial in the February issue of Indiana Prairie Farmer ("Get out the truth about HSUS", page 8). The Humane Society of the United States takes money from people who think they're helping dogs and cats. They're not. According to www.consumerfreedom.com, in "Unpacking the HSUS Gravy Train," only one-half of one-percent of what they take in actually goes to help animals. The authors say the information came from HSUS's Form 990 for 2008 taxes.
As you pointed out, many people assume they're donating to local humane societies that do a lot of good on the local level. If their check goes to HSUS, they're not helping anyone locally. If they want the money to be used locally to provide care for pets, they need to seek out their local humane society in the community and donate to them directly.
We're in the chicken and egg business. We operate Rose Acres. By my way of thinking, HSUS uses the money they raise to kill chickens, not help animals. Here's why I make that statement.
HSUS was heavily behind proposition 2 in California. Voters passed it as a ballot initiative. Fortunately we don't have ballot initiatives in Indiana. Anyway, as part of the proposition, animals will have to have enough room to turn around without touching another animal. What we hear from those in the industry is that California will lose some of its poultry producers. They will go to states that want them, and where they can care for the chickens like they should be cared for.
Meanwhile, HSUS contends that chickens should not be raised in cages. Yet studies show twice the mortality rate when chickens are in loose housing compared to cages. We've known that for 40 years. That's because they pile up and some suffocate.
We tried it ourselves again just to be sure. We found the same thing. We lost twice as many chickens in a loose housing system compared to our normal cage system. Turning chickens loose results in more dead chickens.
There is a market for free-range eggs and other specialties, so we do enough of it to supply our market. If the customer wants it, we'll deliver it. But fewer chickens die if they're in cages.
We try to be open-minded. There's a new housing method out called the enhanced cage system. Basically, chickens are in cages part of the time, but not all the time. The idea is to capture the best of both worlds. We're thinking seriously about experimenting with it. If it's progress and a better way to do it, we're all for it. Additionally, it supposedly cost the same as a regular cage system.
What does HSUS think about this new idea? From what I can tell, they don't want anything to do with it. They don't want chickens in cages, period.
To me the bottom line is clear. HSUS brings in an unbelievable amount of money. But they're not about helping animals or saving chickens. They have their own agenda, and that's where the money goes.
Anthony Rust, Rose Acre Farms, Seymour