Polls estimate that 83% of Americans approve of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the director of the Center for Consumer Freedom reported at the recent American Agri-Women Symposium (AAW) held in Washington, DC.

David Martosko said most people still believe that the money they donate to HSUS will go to local animal shelters. In fact, HSUS is using the funds to mount campaigns to eliminate meat from the diet. To combat that agenda, Martosko has founded a Web site, www.humanewatch.org, which shadows HSUS and other animal rights groups. Visitors to the Web site can find out how much of the HSUS budget goes to animal protection compared to staff salaries, advertising and fundraising expenses.

Martosko and Steve Kopperud of Policy Directions Inc. agreed that animal rights groups are building coalitions and that animal agriculture should do the same. Kopperud suggested that agriculture should develop alliances that involve new partners such as with unions, churches, educators and less radical humane groups.

Kopperud recalled a referendum that was defeated in Massachusetts in 1998 with the help of Boston labor unions. He urged the women “to talk to people you’ve never talked to before.”

Chelsie Redalen, director of government relations for the National Pork Producers Council, warned about the proposed legislation to limit use of antibiotics in livestock production. One report on antibiotics seen on the evening news gave the livestock industry one minute to tell its story vs. 13 minutes for the opponents.
The PEW Commission last year funded ads on metro trains in Washington, DC, that read, “Up to 70% of U.S. antibiotics go to farm animals that aren’t sick.” These figures were based on unreliable data, she said.

Kay Johnson Smith, executive vice president of the Animal Agriculture Alliance, urged the women to use social media to their advantage. She reported that 45% of people get their news from their e-mails and nearly two billion people use the Internet.

Pictures are a good means of telling your story. For example, a cow rubbing her back on a back scratcher illustrates the owner cares about the cow by providing the equipment.

Northwest Iowa Rep. Steve King stressed, “You have to go on the offensive. Tell the facts and put the opposition on the spot.”

Following the symposium, AAW members visited their congressmen and senators and spoke with them about the importance of animal agriculture.

To learn more about AAW, visit their Web site at www.americanagriwomen.org.