Who would have guessed that an Australian wine company with a cute wallaby on its label could incite so much outrage from the U.S. livestock industry? That’s exactly what the U.S. distributor of Yellow Tail wine has done when the news hit the streets that the company was involved in a promotion with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to the tune of $100,000.

Social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube were ablaze with comments, videos and a campaign dubbed “Yellow Fail” from the livestock industry and other agricultural entities. My favorite protest was a YouTube video of South Dakota rancher Troy Hadrick walking out into a snowy pasture with his cows and dumping a bottle of Yellow Tail wine onto the ground. 

 Animal Agriculture Alliance Executive Vice President Kay Johnson-Smith penned a letter to Yellow Tail explaining why its donation to HSUS was a bad move. Some of the points she made were:

  • The Humane Society of the United States is a group that is not affiliated with local animal shelters. Instead, HSUS uses its considerable budget to threaten America’s hardworking farmers and ranchers — the very people that produce the steaks and cheese that pair so well with your wines.
  • Analysis of the HSUS 2008 tax return shows that only one-half of one percent of the group’s funds actually went towards caring for animals.
  • An investigation by an Atlanta, Ga., news station found that only 53% percent of the $34 million HSUS raised in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina could be accounted for as spent on disaster-relief activities. In December 2009, HSUS raised $1.2 million using the image of “Fay,” a severely disfigured pit bull rescued from a fighting ring — despite the fact that HSUS had not provided any of the animal’s care.
  • HSUS is using the crisis in Haiti to fundraise. When the American Veterinary Medical Association joined with 15 other animal welfare organizations to form the Animal Relief Coalition for Haiti (ARCH), HSUS instead began marketing itself as the sole provider of animal care to the ravaged area. It launched a massive advertising campaign to secure donations for itself, even while a call for animal aid had yet been made from caregivers in Haiti.
  • HSUS invests the millions of dollars that unknowing supporters donate every year into sophisticated legal and legislative campaigns that threaten the way of life of America’s farmers and ranchers. In 2008, HSUS sponsored a ballot initiative in California that is expected to fully eradicate the state’s egg industry when it goes into effect in 2015, bringing with it an expected economic loss of $615 million. HSUS ultimate goal is the elimination of animal agriculture in entirety.

Yellow Tail did send out a form letter response to people who e-mailed them, which is better than no response at all, indicating it would redirect its contribution to HSUS emergency rescue programs. That hasn’t seemed to satisfy the agriculture industry and they continue to voice their displeasure, especially on Facebook, Twitter, and through e-mails to the company.

I personally like Yellow Tail with a great steak and some excellent cheese, but for now I’ll hold off on that purchase as I watch how this drama unfolds. If you want to join in and voice your comments, you can visit the Yellow Fail Facebook page at www.facebook.com and type in “Yellow Fail”. As of this writing, there over 2,000 “fans” of this page. You can also e-mail the U.S. distributor directly at info@wjdeutsch.com.

So let’s raise a glass (of anything but Yellow Tail) to the swift uprising of our industry and its willingness to speak up for itself.