How the Egg Industry Should Respond to HSUS’s “Investigation”


That's Josh Balk, the "outreach coordinator" for the Humane Society of the United States' animal agriculture department. He's essentially third in the HSUS line of succession (behind Wayne Pacelle and Paul Shapiro) when it comes to cows, pigs, and chickens.

Balk was recruited to HSUS at the same time Shapiro was brought in. They came from the same vegan activist group in Washington, DC—a ragtag bunch that called itself "Compassion Over Killing." (The name reflects where they stand on the idea of slaughtering animals for food, which is to say they believe it shouldn't be allowed. At all.)

On his blog today, Wayne Pacelle (a vegan himself, remember) is waxing sanctimonious about how egg farmers who put chickens in coops are doing something morally unforgivable:

These companies, and all others in the sector, should do the right thing and shift toward cage-free housing systems.

But if cage-free is HSUS's preferred solution, how come Josh was complaining barely nine months ago that "cage free" eggs aren't humane enough?

With this thought in mind, here's how we would respond to the pot-shots Wayne Pacelle is taking at egg farmers:

  1. As a condition of even having an introductory discussion with HSUS, we would insist on seeing every frame of video shot on our farm. No exceptions. And we would want the legal right to re-cut the more flattering portions to put on our website. Fair is fair.
  2. If we switched to "cage free" hen housing, we would want HSUS to show its appreciation for the enormous expense this would involve—by actually endorsing our product. Let us print the HSUS logo on every carton of eggs. Put omelet recipes on the HSUS website. Show some good faith.
  3. Most importantly, if we switched our entire operation to the "cage free" system, we would want a guarantee (in writing) that this is where HSUS's demands will end. Period.

If Wayne Pacelle wants people to believe his organization is only interested in what he calls "modest" reforms, he should, you know … actually define his endgame in terms of modest reforms.

The fear among America's smarter farmers is that as soon as HSUS strong-arms half the country's egg farmers into going cage-free, he'll come along with yet another bombastic tirade and claim that things are still not "humane" enough to satisfy his political bloodlust.

We think it's a reasonable fear to have. Because while a "cage free America" might look like a touchdown for HSUS, the smart money is on Pacelle seeing it as no more than a "first down."

Move the chains. Huddle up and run another play. Preferably something involving misdirection.

More people are beginning to understand that the Humane Society of the United States has the same long-term goals as PETA and other groups whose radicalism is more obvious. So before anyone thinks about giving Wayne what he wants today, they should have a plan for when he comes knocking tomorrow with yet another series of emotional accusations.

Because there will be a next time. And a next time. And a next time.