What do Nebraska, Ohio, Colorado and, now, Iowa have in common? For starters, as of November 14, these are the four states where HSUS has established “State Agriculture Councils” consisting of farmers and ranchers in each state.

According to HSUS, the Iowa council will focus on marketing opportunities for farmers and ranchers who practice certain animal welfare standards, highlight environmental stewardship and facilitate a dialogue with other farming and ranching organizations and their members.

Chris Petersen, a Berkshire hog farmer from near Clear Lake, Iowa, is one of the founding members of the council in Iowa. Petersen is the immediate past president for the Iowa Farmers Union.

“As an Iowa farmer, I believe family farmers and ranchers have much common ground with The HSUS when it comes to animal husbandry treatment,” said Petersen. “It’s a positive step to work together to address the future of animal agriculture and find solutions to animal welfare challenges.”

Other founding members include Garry Klicker, a Bloomfield farmer who is also involved with the National Farmers Union and the Sierra Club; Marian Kuper, a farmer who raises row crops and beef calves in Hardin County; Gary Hoskey, a row crop, cattle and hog farmer from Montour; John Gilbert, a farmer from Iowa Falls who raises grains and forages to feed his Brown Swiss dairy herd and pigs; and Tom Frantzen, a New Hampton farmer who grows crops and raises cattle and pigs.

Not so fast says the Animal Agriculture Alliance Communications Director Emily Meredith. The Animal Agriculture Alliance works with its members to educate consumers about animal agriculture.

“The Humane Society of the United States certainly has ample resources to waste on initiatives like their animal welfare coalitions – however there are already plenty of credible groups that work hard every day to safeguard animal well-being,” said Meredith. “These groups include our member organizations, like the American Humane Association, the National Pork Board and many others who have their boots on the ground and have developed – relying on third-party experts, veterinarians and animal scientists – guidelines for producers to follow. With the great work these two groups specifically, and others have done in further advancing animal care, HSUS’ efforts are nothing more a front to appear to be engaged.”