Can you ID the donkey in the HSUS deal?

The donkey in our barn needed its hooves trimmed, but I had no experience in the realm of jackass foot care. I was completely unsure how to proceed until my friend Chad came over and said that he would be trimming the hooves of his (and his in-laws) donkeys the following day. He said if I helped him trim his donkey hooves, he would be glad to help me. How fortunate.

The next morning I found myself chest deep in a pasture of nettles and poison ivy trying to round up donkeys that were not too interested in being rounded up. In our system, Chad (who is a much more experienced donkey farrier than I) did the trimming and I was charged with wrestling and holding the surly beasts of burden that were quite dismayed about the entire situation. In the process, I was kicked, bitten and stepped on.

I complained enough about my various injuries from the experience that my wife was not sure who the real donkey was in the barn when we finally got to the hooves of our donkey (see my blog at for a photo). It seemed that I got the worst end of this donkey-laden deal.

There were many in agriculture last month that felt that they too were on the receiving end of donkey-kick-bad-deal after the sudden announcement of the agreement with the Humane Society of the United States. Farm folks were fired up for the coming battle and a complete victory this fall for Ohio agriculture that would send a defeated HSUS back home.

Well, that didn’t quite happen and that generated great dismay with the agricultural leaders who made the decision about the agreement. The frustration is understandable, but Ohio agriculture needs to take a close look at the benefits of this deal.

First, early polling numbers were not looking so great for agriculture. If Ohio ag did everything right (including spending $15 million that had not been raised yet), and HSUS missed a couple of steps, the chances were looking like about 50-50. Are you willing to gamble $15 million, countless man-hours and the future of animal agriculture with those odds?

Voters tend to favor the strongest measure for animal care. Last fall, that was Issue 2 and it passed. This fall, we all know what voters would have seen as the strongest measure for animal care if HSUS had moved forward with their plan.

The deal also prevented the brutal visual assault on Ohio voters that would have taken place in the coming months featuring every horrifying image of animal abuse that our opponents could conjure up. Even with a win this fall at the polls, Ohio agriculture would have a long (and expensive) road ahead to counteract the resulting public relations nightmare.

What we got instead was a gentleman’s agreement and a list of recommendations that Ohio’s agricultural leaders felt that the livestock industry in the state could live with. If agriculture holds up its end, HSUS will leave Ohio voters alone (at least for awhile).

If agriculture fails to implement the recommendations of the deal, Ohio simply bought some time to raise money, prepare for the battle ahead and let the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board prove itself. In addition, it lets the Proposition 2 show its true colors as it wrecks havoc in California, giving more ammunition to an anti-HSUS argument. It is also worth noting that HSUS typically waits for major elections, which means, at the very least, Ohio bought multiple years.

This deal with the devil is certainly unsettling in principle and frustrating for those in Ohio agriculture who were ready for a fight. It is tempting to write off those who made the decision, but now is not the time for a divided agriculture.

There is no doubt that Ohio agriculture took some licks here, but we need to understand what was gained (and prevented) with this deal and make sure we never get confused about which party is the real donkey in the barn.

Can you ID the donkey here? We need to make sure that we keep everything in the proper perspective with the HSUS deal.

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  1. The Jackass is in the middle right?

    Or does your wife have a different opinion?

  2. A Few questions I have.

    1. With Issue 2 voted IN as the avenue to handle these issues, why would the HSUS even get to the ballot box? We already said in Ohio that the Board was approved.

    2. If HSUS can side step the board in 2010, what stops them from side stepping in 2011, 2012….? Seems to me that this is media loop hole that is being past off to readers to try and calm them down.

    3. The Agreement states in #10 that if the HSUS does not approve of how the Board is handling their concerns they can bring thier signatures to ballot. What is to stop the HSUS from saying today it’s okay, tomorrow it’s not?

    4. When the OFBF and Ag leaders agreed to the “conditions” of the HSUS, they agreed to all 10 conditions. How can they now say they didn’t agree to SB 95 termed the Puppy Mill Bill or the Ban on Exotic Animals?

    I know it is not your responsiblilty to answer most of the questions I have asked. I would hope that your readers take a minute to think about these questions as they are valid questions that everyone should be asking the OFBF, Gov. Strickland and the Ag Leaders.

    People are upset that our elected leaders made an agreement with HSUS and no one new anything about it before hand except the Ag Leaders and the Gov. Many people support several of the pieces of the agreement, it’s the overall agreement itself that is upsetting and the fact that Ag is agreeing to terms that are not Ag’s area. No where in Ohio Revised Code (ORC) does it state that Livestock includes Dogs, Cats, Exotic Aniamls and the OFBF has not assisted these industries in the past to my knowledge even though these industry’s worked very had along with the Farmers to get Issue 2 Passed because it does affect us.

    Thank you.

  3. Mr. Reese, thank you for your email response to my questions. I need to point out a couple of things for clarity. You replied to my 4th question with this response:
    4. The non-ag conditions (including the puppy mill conditions” were
    not made with OFBF or Ohio agriculture. These components of the
    agreement were with Governor Strickland.
    5. Since this portion of the agreement in non-ag and was made with
    Governor Strickland and not OFBF, OFBF can take any stand they want.

    However, I would like to respond by saying:
    4. The agreement was entered into by ALL parties. The dog bill and exotic animal portion was not signed by HSUS and the Governor only. The Governor and Farm Bureau can point the finger at each other all they want, but the truth is, either one of them could have walked away from the table when those issues came up. Since they all agreed to it, they are all equally responsible.

    5. OFBF can *not* take any stand they want on dogs and exotic animals, or anything else. They are duty bound to follow their own state policy which has been voted on by their own delegates. They do not have state policy allowing them to support Senate Bill 95 (the Dog Kennel Licensing Bill), nor do they have state policy allowing them to support a prohibition on exotic animals. When those 2 issues came up, regardless of who introduced them, Farm Bureau should have at that point told the Governor and HSUS that Farm Bureau could not proceed with any agreement which includes those 2 issues, because Farm Bureau state policy does not permit them to do so.

    Thank you.

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