HSUS, Missouri and Ohio’s new ag director: HumaneWatching with David Martosko

David Martosko

A conversation with … David Martosko, director of research, Center for Consumer Freedom

OCJ: What is the Center for Consumer Freedom and what interaction does CCF have with the Humane Society of the United States?

David: The Center is a nonprofit food-issues “action tank.” We weigh in on matters of public concern related to food and beverage production and marketing, and on all the various political issues that surround what we eat and drink. For too long, anti-agriculture and anti-industry activists have presumed to wear the white hats — mostly because nobody spoke up to challenge them. When they’re wrong (which is pretty often), we go on the offensive.

Our relationship with the Humane Society of the United States would best be described as “watchdog.” There’s no one else focusing with any serious energy on what this group is doing, who’s running it, and what its goals are.

Much of what HSUS does is, we would argue, wrong-headed in the same way that PETA’s endgame is wrong-headed. So we watch them closely and report our findings daily at www.HumaneWatch.org. About 200,000 people have become HumaneWatch fans on Facebook since it launched in February. We’re not on Wayne Pacelle’s Christmas card list.

OCJ: What is your role with CCF and how did you get to that position?

David: I’m officially CCF’s “director of research,” but no one on our staff cares too much about titles. I help manage a group of truly gifted and talented researchers, writers and online campaign experts. I think we have the smartest communications staff in Washington. Nearly 10 years ago, a very perceptive headhunter matched me up with the association management firm that runs CCF’s day-to-day operations. I’ve been learning on the job ever since. Ten years is a lifetime in Washington, but I believe strongly in CCF’s twin North Stars of consumer choice and individual responsibility. Americans should resent activist elites leading them around by the nose.

OCJ: HSUS-backed legislation recently passed in Missouri. What was this legislation?

David: HSUS’s “Proposition B” will, unless it’s amended by the state legislature, make it illegal for dog breeders to own more than 50 un-spayed or un-neutered dogs. There were other provisions in the narrowly approved measure, but they were just window-dressing to get the main thrust approved. At least one of HSUS’s leaders has publicly stated that the group’s goal is to gradually ratchet down these 50-dog statewide limits until breeders go out of business completely.

OCJ: What was agriculture’s position in Missouri and how will the ag industry be impacted by the result?

David: The livestock agriculture sector didn’t engage much, at least not with serious dollars. It’s hard to blame them, since nearly everyone (myself included) thought the chances of prevailing were slim at best. But the statewide industry was certainly against Proposition B.

Their concern — and I think it’s a valid one — focused on one line in Proposition B which defined a “pet” as “any domesticated animal normally maintained in or near the household of the owner thereof.” So suddenly you have a precedent on the books for HSUS to argue that cattle, horses, pigs and chickens, and all sorts of wild game and sport fish, can be legally regulated as “pets” just because they are “near” someone’s household. (And who gets to decide what “near” means?) From here it’s a small lateral step for animal rights activists to erect legal roadblocks to cattle ranching, pork production and even hunting.

OCJ: What lessons can U.S. agriculture learn from what happened in Missouri?

David: The most important lesson, I think, is that the Humane Society of the United States isn’t invincible. Proposition B passed by only a few percentage points. Most of its support was generated (1) in urban areas, and (2) very, very early in the campaign season. If industry stakeholders had launched a sort of “inoculation” campaign five or six months before the election, and pooled their resources to make city-dwellers less receptive to the snake oil HSUS would try to sell them later, the result would certainly have been different.

OCJ: What will the next HSUS target be? Are there other initiatives or efforts underway in other states?

David: Not yet — the 2012 “season” has yet to really begin. But there are a lot of antennae up in Nebraska, Oregon, Ohio and even back in Missouri again. Time will tell.

OCJ: What seems to be the best method of dealing with the tactics of HSUS?

David: On a day-to-day basis, there’s not much that agriculture can do, or should do, to push back. A farmer’s job is to feed people. Their trade associations are tasked with making consumers comfortable with eating what’s plentiful. The trench warfare is best left to the professionals, groups like CCF that have more communications muscle and less aversion to risk. Most farmers understand that the bunny-huggers are trying to subject animal agriculture to a death by 1,000 cuts. But do you really want to go toe to toe with a group calling itself a “humane society”?

In addition, two things need to happen: (1) animal protein producers need to do a better job of screening job applicants to weed out animal-rights infiltrators, and (2) the worst of the worst in livestock farming should be driven out of the industry by their peers. The best way to avoid letting a single “bad apple” spoil a whole harvest is to turn that one apple into compost.

OCJ: What can U.S. agriculture do to counteract or defeat HSUS-backed initiatives?

David: HSUS is accustomed to making its own first impression with voters — especially left-leaning elites in cities. But if someone else makes that first impression for them, their collective halo tarnishes pretty easily. The strategic goal should be to make sure HSUS’s spokespeople aren’t credible messengers on animal agriculture matters down the stretch. And why should they be? HSUS’s senior staff doesn’t include any veterinarians, farmers or ranchers. And most of them are vegans. They’re the biggest group of outsiders you could ever assemble.

OCJ: What should people know about HSUS and their tactics? Do they fight fair?

David: “Fighting fair” isn’t in HSUS’s vocabulary, because the animal rights movement is really a quasi-religion. From their point of view, it’s less important to behave honorably than it is to win. Because in the minds of HSUS’s leaders, every chicken, lab rat and prairie dog is a person — with the same exact moral worth as my daughters or your siblings. I think they’re nuts, but that’s how they see the world. They think the rest of us are nuts for eating steaks, fishing on Saturdays and donating to the Susan G. Komen breast cancer research fund.

Now ask yourself: If your child, your parent, your spouse or your best friend were being held against his or her will, or used for biomedical research, or hunted in the wild, is there anything you wouldn’t do to save them? That’s the mindset we’re seeing at work within HSUS, PETA and other similar groups.

What’s really scary is that a small minority of unstable animal rights “true believers” (just like in every radical movement) take matters into their own hands and get quite violent. We’ve seen animal-rights arsonists, murderers, even a group of crazies in England who held the remains of their target’s deceased grandmother as a hostage.

HSUS may not go that far, but at least one of the group’s senior staffers is a former national spokesman for the terrorist Animal Liberation Front. I don’t think the concept of fighting fair even enters the mind of someone like that.

OCJ: As an Ohio native, what are your thoughts on how our state has handled HSUS?

David: I grew up in Cuyahoga County and went to St. Ignatius High School in downtown Cleveland. But I spent quite a few summers at the Ohio State Fair watching livestock animals, meeting the FFA and 4-H kids, and learning what I could from the livestock events. From where I stand, it’s been a mixed bag.

The livestock groups’ “Buckeye Compromise” (with Governor Strickland and HSUS) earned mixed reviews, including from HumaneWatch. (We eventually tempered our initial enthusiasm when the fine print was published.) But in the end, it may turn out to have been a nifty stalling tactic. By choosing an outspoken HSUS critic to lead the state Department of Agriculture, Governor-Elect Kasich has already indicated that he has no patience for Wayne Pacelle.

By the time HSUS regroups and dusts off its 500,000 signatures from 2010 (which I think is inevitable), more and more Ohioans will have a better education about who the players are. The new governor will have a bully pulpit of sorts. And at least some of HSUS’s signatures will no longer represent registered Ohio voters.

Anything in the livestock sector that’s bad for the Humane Society of the United States is ultimately good for Ohio farmers, and great for Ohio’s farm animals. (Vegans, remember, have absolutely no use for cows, pigs or chickens.) So I’m hoping that this little cooling off period will change the momentum enough to send HSUS’s carpetbaggers back to Washington, D.C.

Check Also

Farmland losses far outpace preservation

By Matt Reese Ohio farmland is a long taken-for-granted resource providing the very basis for …


  1. Wanna know the truth about this DC corporate lobbyist ‘expert’?


    These geniuses have an agenda the size of an anaconda…

    PLEASE don’t believe everything you read!

  2. I agree do not believe everything you read. Including the website you cited

  3. Terry, you are a member of PETA? Correct?

  4. This man speaks the truth.

  5. Yes Jessica, I am a member of ‘PETA’:

    People Exposing the Twits of America

    also the HSUS

    Help Stop Unbelievably Stupid

    and the ASPCA

    American Society for the Prevention of Crackpots
    & Airheads

  6. I would believe CCF, a group that is completely UP FRONT about what it is they do and does not actively solicit donations from the public, before I would ever believe a group like HSUS, who does NOTHING to refute people’s belief that they are something that they are not.

    Any group that has to lie (whether that is outright or by omission, (HSUS does both constantly) to gain any acceptance with the general public is not to be trusted. If your agenda is truly admirable, then let it stand on its own merits, why deceive unless you know people will not support your end goal.

    All these animal rights groups know that the majority of people do not support their ultimate agenda, as radical as it is, so they have absconded with the animal WELFARE vernacular and are using people’s ignorance of the difference (between AR and AW) against us all.

  7. The site that Terry Ward references appears to be fairly well biased toward groups that could be categorized as being in the liberal camp of the political landscape. I am not sure I’d trust its listings for any group.

    If you are interested in finding out what HSUS is all about, visit Mr. Berman’s web site, http://www.humanewatch.org, however don’t take what is said there without following up on the cites given as sources for the information. Visit the HSUS site, which ever one you prefer, currently they advertise http://humanesociety.org the most, and read what they have to say, and follow up on their cites–oops, I forgot, cites on the HSUS sites are very few and far between because they prefer to make up their own facts.

    Use both sites to look up the RICO suit in which HSUS is included as a defendant. Use both sites to look up information about the apparent IRS investigation into HSUS and the non-profit status it currently holds (501(3)(c) organizations are allowed to do a very limited amount of lobbying and participation in the political process). HSUS spend a very large portion of its $100 million dollar budget lobbying–it put over $2 million in its effort to pass Proposition B in Missouri, look it up at http://www.mec.mo.gov/EthicsWeb/CampaignFinance/CF_SearchContr.aspx using Humane Society as the search phrase.

    Do your research. Don’t accept what either side says as the be all, end all of the point being made. You’ll find some interesting stuff. Like many of the “facts” used by HSUS have no basis in science or literature, many of the arguments made cannot stand alone without acceptance of the HSUS “facts” and many go against good science and what people have found to work.

    Another question you may want to ask yourself is why are local humane societies beginning to take the humane society out of their name? Could it be the HSUS is taking away their fund raising ability? Could it be that HSUS is giving the phrase Humane Society” a bad name? Is there another reason?

  8. I was watching one of the Daytime Judge shows and on that particular show there was a lawsuit where one party was seeking money for pain and suffering because his pet died. That Judge stated in the eyes of the law you can NOT sue for pain and suffering due a pets death because IT IS PROPERTY. IF the law sees animals as property then HOW can HSUS and all these other groups push laws through States giving animals equal rights as a human and the courts not stopping them? I thought as Americans we have been given the right to determine our speech, religion, AND how we choose to live our life. Radical groups like HSUS want to strip us of our rights of self-determination by regulating how I choose to earn an income and what I am to consume as food. I dont try to impose my belief of consuming meating on some one who chooses not to counsume meat. If some doesnt want to consume meat then fine, thats YOUR choice, BUT they want to impose their belief against it on me. Whys is their belief the ONLY right way for us to live? Its time ALL Americans stand up and say enough is enough to all the regulations being imposed on us. Every time a law is passed we have given up a small part of our Freedom.

    • i like your personal freedom argument, too bad you don’t realize that animals are connected to humans, who are, in fact, animals themselves…chimpanzees share 98.5% of human DNA…so the personal freedom of animals MUST be added to the equation and they don’t want to live in torment and be killed any more than you’d want this so….yes!! personal freedom…do whatever you want while allowing others the freedom to live their lives as they choose, not as you choose for them…

  9. I think the interview is really good and what Mr. Martosko says makes absolute sense.

  10. Excellent article and great points. Animal Welfare is Animal Ownership, not Animal Rights. People that believe in Animal Welfare do treat their animals with respect. Time to Spay and Neuter HSUS, give them “One generation and Out”!

  11. Mike said

    ‘BUT they want to impose their belief against it on me. Whys is their belief the ONLY right way for us to live? Its time ALL Americans stand up and say enough is enough to all the regulations being imposed on us. Every time a law is passed we have given up a small part of our Freedom.’

    This is the EXACT argument pedophiles use.

    I suggest changing it,,,

  12. Oh. I’m kidding. That was actually an awful argument.

    • Goodness me, someone seems to want my name.
      How silly, do you not have a name of your own?
      Possibly you were born under a rock.
      The REAL Terry Ward was NOT kidding as the FAKE Terry Ward claims.
      The fake Terry Ward is a bozo.

  13. What gets me is Alex Jones bitches all the time about Monsanto, yet he gave air time to Monsanto frontman David Martosko on Jones’ radio show. Alex Jones is a Monsanto shill. His wife Kelly Nichols/Violet Jones was an agent provocateur paid by Rick Berman to infiltrate PETA and stage terror against Oscar de la Renta and Anna Wintour so PETA could be declared a terrorist organization. Alex Jones is a master of false-flag terrorism because his wife engaged in false-flag terrorism under the employ of Rick Berman.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *