Matt Prescott’s full title better explains what he does: Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) Food Policy Director for Farm Animal Protection. He joined HSUS three years ago after a stint as shareholder-campaign manager and head of corporate affairs at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). People in Animal Ag would charitably describe his work experience as proof of a “checkered past.”
Although HSUS had been following a similar shareholder tactic for years, he brought his PETA experience with him to help further their Gestation Crate campaign. He explainedit to the Boston Globe while he was still with PETA. "We purchase small amounts of stock and begin to attend their annual meetings. When we come up with a shareholder resolution, the company has to print up our message and send it to every investor. So everybody reads what we've written -- usually a statement about the graphic ways that the company is abusing animals."
Just so you know what an inventive activist he is - he purchased a plot in the cemetery where Kentucky Fried Chicken founder Col. Harland Sanders is buried. The epitaph on the gravestone reads "KFC Tortures Birds." Cemetery officials say they were tricked by PETA into placing the gravestone near the tomb where Sanders is interred.
So let me say this to people who scorn the initiatives taken by HSUS and might hope the whole thing will go away. They are a smart, dedicated group who are well-organized and certainly well-financed. And like them or not, they are very professional in their pursuit of their goal.
The proof is in their remarkable record of moving their gestation crate initiative forward. It’s been there for a long time, a decade or so, but without much notice until recently. This year, it seems another major corporation is signing on the dotted line every week. Their tactics are working and I have no doubt that they’ll soon mark this up in their ‘win’ column and focus more strongly on the next animal in animal ag. With pigs and chickens well in hand, bovines will certainly be next.
To gain a better understanding of what’s going on at HSUS HQ, I tossed a few questions at Mr. Prescott. Here’s what he said:
Q. Matt, I'm on your distribution list for press releases so I've been watching your gestation crate notes. It seems like another company is signing on with increasing regularity. So that the list doesn't get lost in the shuffle, who has signed on and what kinds of businesses do they represent?