It’s Paul Shapiro’s weekly Animal News You Can Use! »
Want to read a great AP story about the proponents of anti-whistleblower “ag-gag” bills getting part of their bodies (I’ll let you be the judge) handed to them at a legislative hearing in Nebraska yesterday? Also, the ag-friendly Bakersfield Californian editorial board slammed the supporters of a similar California bill this week, saying how they’re “amazed by the audacity of the cattle industry.”
Good week in statehouses for farm animals, with a New Jersey ag committee passing a bill to ban gestation crates and a Colorado committee doing the same on a bill to ban dairy cow tail-docking. We’ll continue working hard to further advance these bills.
There’s a fascinating story out today about a meat industry front man who admits he created a fake Facebook profile posing as an animal activist in order to criticize HSUS and encourage other animal activists to do the same.
After extensive dialogue with HSUS, Bob Evans is the latest food giant to announce it wants to phase out gestation crates. And the National Pork Board did a survey with promising results about the changing attitudes of pork producers to the gestation crate issue.
Think you’re the only one who finds promise in plant-based products? These billionaires are with you.
Finally, students! If you want “Skinny Bitch” Rory Freedman, VegNews editorial director Elizabeth Castoria, and HSUS’s Kristie Middleton to read your essay, enter HSUS’s Meatless Monday essay contest now!
Video of the week: Justin Timberlake on SNL singing about vegan eating. Words can’t describe how great it is.
Photo of the week: My cats enjoying their catio!
Update: HSUS is totally going to win that National Pork Producers Council lawsuit »
Remember in September, when we talked about that lawsuit that HSUS co-filed with a pig farmer against the National Pork Producers Council? It focused on a “creative” use of fees paid by pig farmers to ostensibly pay for the licensing rights to “The Other White Meat,” but which actually disappeared in a back-room deal. HSUS alleged that “NPPC charged pork producers twice: once to make The Other White Meat successful, and again to pay for the value of that success.”
Park Wilde of U.S. Food Policy updated us on the lawsuit this week, and it is not looking good for those sneaky NPPC jerks. Per some newly unredacted documents pertaining to the sale of the slogan—which, remember, has been funded by mandatory fees paid by pig farmers through the pork checkoff program—there was never any other buyer for “The Other White Meat” but the NPCC, and moreover, they knew that no one else would ever want it. It wasn’t worth the $36 million that with interest over 20 years amounts to $60 million paid by the pig farmers (who, again, didn’t agree to this deal, didn’t want this deal, didn’t have any involvement in this deal besides funding it), and now everyone knows it.
It appears that pork checkoff program monies have been used for almost entirely shady purposes. What got HSUS interested in them was their suspected illegal use for lobbying against animal welfare initiatives that HSUS has been pushing for years. This revelation about “The Other White Meat” is only one gotcha, but it’s a big, obvious one. The dirtiest corporate secrets are always in the accounting, right? Tsk tsk, NPPC.
Take a look at the unredacted document at U.S. Food Policy. I can’t wait to see how those 100 percent anti-animal-welfare jerks at NPPC are going to respond. I hope it’s more whining and accusations of bullying!
[Photo by Giang Hồ Thị Hoàng via Flickr]
It’s Paul Shapiro’s Animal News You Can Use! »
It’s Animal News You Can Use from Paul Shapiro! Yay, Paul! Yay, animals!
The latest beef in the battle between the pork industry’s leadership and HSUS is a newly filed lawsuit. HSUS charges that the National Pork Board struck an unlawful “ham scam” backroom deal with the National Pork Producers Council to purchase the “Pork: The Other White Meat” slogan. The purchase is bankrolling a third of the NPPC’s annual budget, which includes waging anti-animal lobbying efforts.
Both ConAgra and Dunkin Donuts announced in the past week that they’re eliminating gestation crates from their supply chains. Despite ConAgra being based in Nebraska, true to form, the head of the Nebraska Farm Bureau derided the company’s move and assured the public that “The use of gestation crates is really a better way to care for hogs.” The dude may as well be defending the NFL replacement refs…
In non-NFL news, my esteemed coworker at HSUS, Dr. Michael Greger, has a piece that was on the CNN home page about the public health dangers of factory farming.
Finally, the New York Times had a good feature last week on how mainstream vegan eating is in Southern California. Check it out!
Video of the week: Dog meets trampoline:
Pork lawsuit extravaganza! HSUS and a pig farmer sue pork lobbyists and the government! »
Big Pork is having a hell of a week.
On Monday, the Humane Society, along with pig farmer (“pork producer”) Harvey Dillenburg, filed a lawsuit against the NPCC because “the National Pork Board ‘struck an unlawful backroom deal’ with the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) in purchasing the marketing message “Pork: The Other White Meat” from NPPC” in 2001.
Essentially, a case of massive, deliberate money mismanagement and lack of government oversight. All pig farmers have to give some of their profits to the NPPC, which has been, this lawsuit alleges, illegally taking money from the NPB and double-charging its funders/creators of the product it’s selling. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack is named as a co-defendant because the government is supposed to monitor how the NPB spends its money.
Why is HSUS involved? According to a press release, because of
… glaring legal violations, conflicts of interest, and an exorbitantly over-inflated $60 million price tag associated with the deal. Much of the extraordinarily inflated value of the slogan resulted from 20 years of promotional campaigns funded entirely with pork producers’ own checkoff funds: roughly half a billion dollars. In essence, NPPC charged pork producers twice: once to make The Other White Meat successful, and again to pay for the value of that success.
Park Wilde of U.S. Food Policy blog explains further: HSUS is trying to protect its recent agreement with egg producers over “ethically acceptable” cage sizes for layer hens.
Although the leading trade association for egg producers is now working with HSUS to get this balanced policy approved by Congress, the agreement faces implacable opposition from the NPPC. The egg agreement causes no harm to pork producers, but the NPPC is worried that the precedent of a successful egg agreement will generate unrealistic hopes for similar good-faith negotiations about gestation crates for pork. It is not surprising that HSUS has been looking into how the federal government’s pork board—which is not supposed to support lobbying—helps fund the NPPC’s efforts to spoil the egg agreement.
See why you, animal-rights enthusiast, should care about this? The NPPC is a bunch of money-grubbing, anti-agriculture-reform jerks who are trying to scuttle HSUS’s effort to make life less shitty for farm animals, outside of their own species jurisdiction. The NPPC is fighting egg production reforms because it sees similar reforms in its future, and it fears them. HSUS alleges that NPPC can’t legally use its funds to fight this battle, pig farmers agree that this is a terrible use of their money, and so we have this lawsuit.
Wilde calls the suit “well written, with astonishing details,” so maybe you want to take a look [pdf]. We’re not surprised that lobbying entities are misusing funds, but it’s especially gross when they misuse funds to fight animal welfare reform.
Adorably, NPPC CEO Neil Dierks responded to the lawsuit by calling HSUS a bully. It’s cute when the people in power feel threatened and immediately appropriate the language of the oppressed. Meat industry supporters are such crybabies.
[Photo by Valerie via Flickr]