The Humane Society of the United States’ (HSUS) newly formed National Agriculture Advisory Council may include eight farmers and ranchers, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have an agenda.

According to the group, the council was formed after the group established 11 state agriculture advisory councils in the past four years.

When asked to clarify the goal of the council, Midge Grinstead, who is the HSUS Kansas state director, told PORK Network the council will “work to promote farming and ranching practices that adhere to higher animal welfare standards as the foundation of economic vibrancy in rural communities. We hope to bring more awareness to the dangers of factory farming and show consumers they have more options when it comes to purchasing agriculture products.”

The industry, however, isn’t buying it.

Dave Warner, communication director with the National Pork Producers Council, pointed out the agricultural industry already does what the HSUS’ advisory council wants to do.

“A number of national and state farm organizations – including the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance and the Animal Agriculture Alliance – already exist and are working with farmers to identify areas of improvement in all aspects of livestock production,” Warner told PORK Network. “A group whose goal is to reduce the consumption of meat cannot and does not represent the best interests of America’s family livestock farmers.”

So what is the goal of the HSUS council?

According to Grinstead, the council will “not only benefit farm animals, but also the family farmer, the consumer, and our environment.”

Warner and Animal Ag Alliance Director of Communications Hannah Thompson disagree and instead look at the main agenda of HSUS. 

Warner said, “It’s not surprising that HSUS would attempt to drive a wedge between “small” and “large” family farmers in its not-so-veiled attempt to discredit modern livestock production. The facts are that the American farming community is made up of all types and sizes of operations, but every farmer is dedicated to producing safe food, to ensuring the well-being of their animals, to protecting the environment, to providing employees a safe workplace and to giving back to their communities.”

Thompson agreed.

“HSUS' efforts are nothing more than a front to appear engaged with farmers and ranchers,” she told PORK Network.  “While today HSUS may be acting like the ally of the producers on this council, the tides will no doubt turn as the organization moves on to target other production methods - a lesson some brands have learned in trying to appease it.”

She added, “Anyone considering aligning themselves with HSUS or any other animal rights activist organizations needs to dig deeper than what these groups say in talking points or on their websites - something the [Animal Ag] Alliance can help you to do.”

Talk to us: What do you think about the HSUS’s National Advisory Council?