The HumaneWatch Interview: Jeff Fowle

Jeff Fowle is a California cattle rancher who takes the Internet seriously. When he’s not looking after his animals, he’s updating his Facebook wall and writing his Common Sense Agriculture blog—or communicating with the more than 31,000 people (!) who follow him on Twitter.

Jeff also understands—better than most, we think—the Humane Society of the United States’s agenda for food animals. HSUS’s strategy, he wrote about a year ago, “is to implement laws and regulations that incrementally work towards the abolishment of animal agriculture and promote a vegan lifestyle.”

That’s pretty strong stuff. It’s no surprise, then, that Jeff takes his concerns about HSUS with him wherever he goes—online and off. Yesterday he was on an airplane from Chicago to Washington, seated next to two HSUS donors. Guess what happened?

Just before noon, this “tweet” popped up on Jeff’s account:

Jeff would later flesh the story out on his blog:

A young couple, in their 20′s, sat next to me and inquired my occupation….lol. I shared my background, to which they replied that they were strong supporters of what I did and were doing their part by donating monthly to…..HSUS.

I let that register in my brain for a moment, sent out a tweet and mentally laid out a plan of engagement. Surprisingly, by asking a line of questions about their understanding of what HSUS does and how they do it, the couple then began asking questions about how I and other family farmers and ranchers cared for our livestock and why I did not appreciate the “help” of the HSUS.

We weren’t on that flight, but Jeff must have said something impressive. Here’s what he “tweeted” after his plane landed:

Again, we’ll let him tell the story:

By the time we landed in Washington, the couple stated that they would be changing their monetary contributions from HSUS to their local shelter and even begin donating old towels and sheets. In addition, the fellow sitting across the aisle, volunteered that he was going to start helping his local shelter as well, and would help spread the word about what HSUS was really doing.

Jeff’s mile-high experiment with low-tech “agvocacy” has created a huge high-tech buzz among farmers and ranchers today, so we reached out and asked him a few questions:

Do you wake up in the morning looking for Humane Society of the United States “supporters” to convert, or was this a spur-of-the-moment thing?

I look for opportunities to simply share my story, as a family rancher and farmer, with the public. I don’t “push” any type of message per se, but I look for open doors with individuals who have genuine questions and concerns about where their food come from, and about how it is grown and produced.

Is it your general understanding that HSUS wants to put you (and your descendants) out of the business of raising animals for food?

It is my firm belief that the HSUS is anti-livestock-production. Their actions speak very clearly.

What bothers you most about HSUS’s tactics?

What I find most disingenuous about HSUS is that they play off the emotions of the public to draw in money that never makes it to the shelters that are in such dire need. Instead, they take that money and utilize it to lobby, to promote anti-livestock legislation and propositions throughout the United States, and to promote a vegan lifestyle.

Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know?

I fully support local humane shelters, especially those that also take in large animals. Ironically, they’re also being inundated with inhabitants due to HSUS-implemented laws and regulations.

Our bottom line is this: Jeff Fowle’s person-to-person persuasion is something anyone can practice. And you don’t have to be eating airline peanuts to try it. We’ve heard similar stories about subway rides, T-ball games, doctor’s waiting rooms, and even long grocery-checkout lines.

The cowboy hat, of course, is optional.