Farmers || Future

Dear Mr. Pacelle,Going Local people on Facebook contribute to their local animal shelters

Your recent “urgent request for help” caught my attention. First I passed it off as another attempt to line your deep coffers with the goal of “raising $200,000 as a ‘counterpunch’ to one of our more persistent critics.” Then I rolled my eyes at hypocrisy of your description of Richard Berman and David Martosko as “shadowy flim-flam artists” and ”an unprincipled group that gleefully stands in the way of all efforts to help animals so long as someone pays them to do it.” Given the fact that the Humane Society of the United States runs campaigns that Mike Rowe has pointed to as “unethical” and law students held up as a bad example of fundraising, your name-calling seemed a bit extreme.

But you really caught my attention when you said that Berman & Martosko “openly encouraged factory farming interests to protest against a corporate partner of The HSUS. This partner company donated $100,000 to help cover the costs of our animal rescue efforts. ” If you take a look at the backlash to Yellow Tail’s ill-fated decision to add to your $200,000,000 in assets (as reported to the IRS), it will likely give you a few tips about a genuine grassroots movement.

You see, those of us in agriculture care deeply about values such as community, work ethic and standing up for what’s right. While your sensationalized videos try to paint a different image, farmers and ranchers pour their lifetimes into their land and animals – because they care enough to do what’s right – even in 4 feet of snow, floods and hurricanes. Perhaps it’s difficult for you to relate to those values since HSUS only spent $7 million of the $34 million you raised around Hurricane Katrina for helping animals in that area. Given the way you’ve worked to divide sectors within agriculture, I suspect you understand that people in our business are independent-minded and don’t take kindly to being told what to do. That’s exactly why your theory of Berman & Martosko doesn’t fly. Let’s take a look at the timeline to see if this was a “corporate” effort or genuinely grassroots.

  • Jan. 25 – 75 tweets mentioning YellowTail
  • Jan. 27 – Sportsmans Alliance wrote a letter to Deutsch & Sons LTD
  • Jan. 29 – 150+ mentions of YellowTail on Twitter
  • Feb 3 a.m. – Troy Hadrick posted on Yellowtail’s facebook page, then mentioned it on Advocates For Ag FB page and Twitter
  • Feb 3 -Yellow Fail Created on Facebook
  • Feb 3 5:42 p.m. – Yellowtail tweeted an update
  • Feb 3 & 4 – Over 1500 tweets/day mentioning YellowTail
  • Feb 4 – Troy Hadrick blogs about YellowTail
  • Feb 4 – 5:08 p.m. Yellowtail announced funds go to animal rescue
  • Feb 4 – Yours truly blogs & tweets about Cute Kittens, Playful Puppies and HSUS Lies
  • Feb 4 – Corn Commentary Blog
  • Feb 4 – Hundreds of comments posted on YellowTail Facebook fan page
  • Feb 4 – Drovers: Just Say G’Day to Yellow Tail
  • Feb 4 - Agropinion blog
  • Feb 4 – Beef daily blog
  • Feb 5 – Discussion started on CNN and Fox FB pages after hundreds of comments are posted on YellowTail Fan Page
  • Feb 5 – 1:45 pm Nebraska TV picked the story up
  • Feb 5 - Twibbon was created by Brian Hoffman
  • Feb 5 – Troy Hadrick posted video on FB
  • Feb 6 – Facebook posts & tweets continue – many from outside of agriculture
  • Feb 6 – Trent Loos goes on air with NTV
  • Feb 6 – Mentioned in Lake county IL News
  • Feb 7 – Blog on toughsledding
  • Feb 7 – Agropinion blog #2
  • Feb 8 – Mentioned on agwired
  • Feb 8 – Consumer Freedom mentions Yellow Tail in their daily update
  • Feb 9 – Going Local posted on Facebook & Twitter to help people protesting YellowTail’s HSUS contribution support their local animal shelters.
  • Feb 9 – Oklahoma Farm Report
  • Feb 9 – Farm and Dairy
  • Feb 9 – Going Local FB page formed
  • Feb 10 – Drovers article
  • Feb 10 – High Plains/Midwest Ag Journal
  • Feb 10 – Smarter Faster, SM blog
  • Feb 10 – Animal Ag Alliance sent letter
  • Feb 12 – PR Daily News mention of Drovers article
  • Feb 13 – Americana Farm Bureau Federation Bob Stallman sends letter
  • Feb 14 – New York Post
  • Feb 15 – DR Vino Blog

And the list continues…with thousands of folks inside and outside of agriculture expressing their feeling to YellowTail. YellowFail on Facebook is getting more than two thousand views daily. Sportsmen and pet owners have spoken out with voices as loud as the farm community. Mr. Pacelle, this is a genuine grassroots efforts because people want to let YellowTail know their dissatisfaction about supporting an organization with questionable campaigning. You can see that Consumer Freedom (Berman and Martosko’s group) didn’t post anything until several days into the YellowTail backlash. The reality is that people were distressed that a company who generates revenue directly from a farm (vineyard) would support an organization that works to litigate, regulate and insult those who produce our food. The reality is that we don’t have a slick letter-writing, e-mail generating, spin doctoring machine like the HSUS media factory.

Yet, we can stand up for human values of integrity and truth. I’m proud of the farmers, hunters and pet owners leading this grassroots effort. The outcry against YellowTail involves people who wanted others to know the truth behind “not-for-profits” like HSUS. While I realize you may not relish that perspective, I hope you can appreciate the power of the movement, respect the individual voices involved and admire the way people responded through social media. That is, after all, what you spend the golden coffers of HSUS doing. In this case, it was done without a puppeteer pulling strings or spending any dollars.

Thanks for giving us a chance to show American citizens can make an impact by exercising our voices, finding others who share our interest in the truth and demonstrating what a community can do when it is genuinely grassroots. If it would help you feel better, I’ll be glad to buy you a dinner of pork chops, steak, or chicken – but without the YellowTail.

Michele Payn-Knoper
On behalf of farmers, ranchers, sportsmen and pet owners

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Comment by Michele Payn-Knoper on February 22, 2010 at 12:01pm
Thanks - we need all of our voices, so everyone here needs to keep connecting farm gate to consumer plate!
Comment by Brady Smith on February 22, 2010 at 11:56am
Amen Michele.......well said and keep doing what you are doing.....we all need to harness our agriculture up-bringing and continue to be advocates for not only our specific operations, but our agriculture community as a whole. I have been to several local meetings from our local Farm Bureau board of directors to Cattleman's banquets. At each meetings, the devil that is HSUS has been mentioned and all attendees at the meetings were made well aware of the importance to make their voices be heard. We will prevail, but continued persistance and dedication to our cause, which is the right cause, needs to be on the minds of ALL producers across our Great Country. Again, keep up the good work. It doesn't go un-noticed. Thank you.


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