For the past few weeks, a video of a dairy steer “cuddling” with what one might assume to be a farmer has been making the rounds on my Facebook newsfeed. I cringe every time I see it shared. Wondering why? This video was posted by the Humane Society of the United States on its Farm Animal Protection Campaign Facebook page.
Now, to be fair, I’ve been seeing the video shared to my farming friends’ pages by others I don’t know. I would give them the benefit of the doubt about not knowing who the HSUS is and the agenda behind the video. But I’m a little frustrated to see how many veterinarians, vet students, farmers and other agriculture professionals have simply “liked” the video, or commented on how cute it is. I haven’t seen many taking the opportunity to explain whom HSUS is, and what its intentions are in producing content about agriculture and farm animals.
Perhaps people aren’t checking the source, or reading the video’s caption – “This cow loves cuddling with the guy who helped rescue him from an industrial slaughterhouse!” (Yes, the people who run HSUS’ Farm Animal Protection Facebook page apparently aren’t aware that a “cow” cannot be a “him”.)
I know personally how challenging it can be to try to confront misinformation online, especially when it’s coming from our friends and family. But by not using this as a chance to spread the word about HSUS’ motives (decreasing, and eventually ending, meat consumption and therefore animal agriculture), we’re helping HSUS with its mission.
If you’re looking for resources about HSUS’ (and other organizations’) focus on animal rights, not animal care, the Alliance can help. We have profile documents available on prominent animal rights groups’ that include quotes from leading staff about promoting veganism, financial information and explanations of major programs. We also have an “activist web” showing how key personnel and funding flow freely between animal rights organizations, especially those that are generally known as radical (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Animal Liberation Front) and those attempting to appear as moderate and professional (HSUS).
The time to explain why HSUS is not a credible source for information about animal agriculture is now, when the subject at hand is a lighthearted video – not when the organization has released an “undercover video” attempting to malign our industry with clever editing, dark lighting and ominous music. I’d like to challenge all of us in agriculture – myself included – to take the opportunity to communicate this message to our Facebook friends and followers.