This article is part one of a four part series investigating the links between the United States Department of Agriculture and radical animal rights organizations. These articles were written by Phil Christofanelli with The Cavalry Group, a national organization which defends the Constitutional rights of animal owners and breeders.
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For most Americans, contact with the United States Department of Agriculture is rare, save for reading the occasional sticker on a package of ground chuck or baby carrots. For farmers and animal breeders, the USDA is an ever-present and often arduous force. Decisions made by these bureaucrats determine the viability and fate of many farms and livestock-based businesses every day. Just as we have seen with the EPA and other agencies, this power makes the USDA a ripe target for infiltration by extremist elements on the Left who seek to radically remake American life.
At the forefront of organizations pressuring the USDA is the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Many people believe that HSUS is a friendly organization that raises money for pet shelters through sappy commercials featuring abandoned dogs and cats. In reality, HSUS is a radical animal organization with an agenda similar to PETA. Despite what their commercials lead unsuspecting donors to believe, remarkably, only1% of HSUS donations go to animal shelters of any kind. The lion’s share is funneled into a massive animal rights lobbying organization, buying off politicians in order to pass regulations that make raising livestock or purebred pets prohibitively expensive. Ultimately, HSUS would like to see a meat-free America with all pets being adopted from shelters and all hunting and fishing prohibited by law. Many at HSUS even believe that animals should be granted the same inalienable rights that citizens in the United States are afforded under the Constitution, including standing to sue their owners. Sounds crazy, right? Well, about that…
An obvious example of the HSUS-USDA connection can be found in the 2012 election. In Iowa’s 4th Congressional District, Steve King was challenged for his seat by Christie Vilsack, wife of Tom Vilsack, Obama’s Secretary of the Dept. of Agriculture. Campaign finance reports show that HSUS invested in Vilsack’s campaign to the tune of $500,000, almost their entire political war chest. Shortly thereafter, Vilsack began to obstruct efforts to resume horse processing, a key HSUS goal.
The overlap does not stop there. One major change at the USDA in the past year has been the development of the new Retail Pet Rule. This rule would require almost all small pet stores and breeders to fall under the jurisdiction of the onerous Animal Welfare Act, subjecting them to the expensive process of USDA inspection and licensing. This rule might as well have been written by HSUS president Wayne Pacelle himself, who is famous for once saying, “I don’t want to see another cat or dog born.” The government’s own studies estimate that it will cost each breeder nearly $5000 to come into compliance with this regulation, a price which many small breeders are unable to pay. Those breeders who are fortunate enough to survive this regulatory assault can look forward to having their inspections overseen by HSUS’ own former Litigation Attorney, Sarah Conant, who has been named the Director of Enforcement at the USDA. Conant is the same individual who fined a Missiouri family $90,000 for selling bunnies. Unsurprisingly, Pacelle has been pushing the new rule at every turn.
All farmers and breeders in the United States are at risk under the Obama Administration. The HSUS agenda is being implemented at every turn by the USDA, often under the supervision of former HSUS employees. Over the next week, we will be releasing a multipart series of articles to demonstrate the consequences of this attack on American Agriculture.