HSUS Leaves Donor Money to Rot in the Garden State

NewJerseyOver the past several years, HSUS has been campaigning to ban the use of individual maternity pens on pork farms. Farmers and veterinarians approve of the pens because they allow for individual care and feeding of pregnant pigs, and sows housed in groups are likely to fight and injure one another. But for HSUS, it’s a wedge issue that it can use to smear pork farmers and try to force them into costly infrastructure changes. This in turn will put some pork farmers out of business—which is one step towards HSUS’s goal of putting them all out of business.

Because maternity pens are approved of by farmers and veterinarians, HSUS is smart enough to know that it’s not going to get lawmakers in farming states like Iowa or Indiana to ban them. So it has targeted states with little pork production, such as Rhode Island, in order to rack up a few public-relations “wins” against softer opposition and make it seem like there’s a growing “momentum” against maternity pens. (Although, that “momentum” has flagged this year, as HSUS-backed legislation failed in several Northeastern states such as Vermont and Connecticut—not exactly right-wing bastions.)

Is this really donor money well spent?

In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a ban on maternity pens that was passed this year by the legislature. HSUS has now announced a $150,000 ad/lobbying campaign to ask the legislature to override the veto. But here’s the thing: As far as we can tell, there’s not a single farm in the state of New Jersey that uses maternity pens (even HSUS admits it doesn’t know if there are any). So even if you don’t like the pens, what’s the point of this law? Vegan activists have claimed it is a preventive measure, but that’s ridiculous. If you’re a pork farmer, why would you invest in a new operation in a state with relatively high land cost and taxes?

In total, it’s likely HSUS has spent at least $200,000 on this lobbying battle in New Jersey. Couldn’t HSUS spend all this money on something fruitful? Like giving grants to pet shelters to help keep dogs and cats alive? Along with the frivolous, failed litigation HSUS has pursued, such as the recently dismissed lawsuit over the pork checkoff—to say nothing of the tens of millions HSUS blows on factory fundraising—there’s quite a story of money mismanagement.

HSUS is desperate for a PR and lobbying win. But for HSUS donors, many of whom give because of the tear-jerking ads featuring needy pets, they are getting the short end of the stick.