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02/28/2013

Update: HSUS is totally going to win that National Pork Producers Council lawsuit  »

imageRemember 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]

09/26/2012

Pork lawsuit extravaganza! HSUS and a pig farmer sue pork lobbyists and the government!  »


Not pictured: interested parties in layer-hen living conditions legislation

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]

(Source: usfoodpolicy.blogspot.com)

07/27/2012

It’s Paul Shapiro’s Animal News You Can Use!  »

It’s Paul Shapiro's Animal News You Can Use! WOOHOO!

Good news: A judge has rejected the foie gras industry’s attempt to put a hold on California’s new law banning the force-feeding of ducks (and selling products from force-fed ducks).

More good news: North America’s largest foodservice distributor, Sysco, is the latest food giant to come out against gestation crate confinement of pigs.

In response to the gestation crate debate, the National Pork Producers Council’s communications director was seriously quoted in the National Journal this week saying: “So our animals can’t turn around for the 2.5 years that they are in the stalls producing piglets…I don’t know who asked the sow if she wanted to turn around.” (No, this isn’t a quote from 30 years ago—it’s July 24, 2012. Seriously. Yes, I know.)

Amazingly, USDA put out a newsletter this week including a mention of the health and environmental benefits of Meatless Monday. This of course drew immediate outrage from the meat industry and its allies in Congress (Rep. Steve King from Iowa tweeted that it was “heresy”), prompting USDA to immediately remove the newsletter and announce that it wasn’t properly vetted. Lots of coverage on this, though the national AP story put it best when it aptly concluded, “The USDA often promotes the beef industry by encouraging Americans to eat meat.” (NPR and NY Times had good coverage, too.) 

Video of the week: Best way to prevent dog shedding… (Or, if you want to upset Rep. King, feel free to share HSUS’s fun Meatless Monday video online today!)

04/24/2012

Paul Shapiro presents: Big Ag is lying to you about animal welfare!  »


It’s Paul Shapiro’s Animal News You Can Use! Yay!

Reuters has a good piece on HSUS’s new FTC complaint against the National Pork Producers Council for its grossly misleading claims related to animal welfare in the industry.

Speaking of misleading, you may be amused to see the enormous shifting that Kreider Farms (the battery egg producer HSUS recently investigated) is doing.

And speaking of investigations, a new investigation in Britain reveals horrific cruelty toward pigs at one of the biggest pork suppliers to the country’s supermarkets.

And finally, breaking news: Study shows red meat can takes years off a cow’s life.

Today’s video of the week was suggested by my friend Zoe Weil, and it is seriously amazing. If you were afraid you’d go to your grave before seeing a dog double-dutching, your fear is now over.

[Can’t see the video? Watch it on Vegansaurus.com!]

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