Well, Here They Go Again

The group that continually advertises on TV, showing sad puppies and kittens, while asking for your monthly donation of $19 to be a humane hero, is now after “The Other White Meat.” That slogan is well recognized as the wording you would see in pork advertisements and has been a trademark owned by the farmer elected National Pork Board (NPB) since 2006, but the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has filed a lawsuit, which some say has no legal merit, against the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Agriculture over the purchase of that trademark by NPB that occurred and was approved more than six years ago. Once again, it seems HSUS is attacking modern day agriculture with the funds collected from images of abused puppies and kittens.

The lawsuit has “rooted” up a lot of nervous interest and disgust from pork producers, who seem to be targeted lately by the organization. In fact, some are even calling it “bullying tactics,” attempting to force the organization to make changes in the way pork is produced on farms across the country. HSUS has been very active in getting numerous large chain restaurants, grocery suppliers and national retailers to sign on to requiring pork suppliers to only provide pork produced on farms not using gestation crates.

“The Other White Meat” has always been a very recognizable tagline for the pork industry. Over the last few years other taglines have been used to promote the product, but the “The Other White Meat” remains the one most people remember when purchasing or communicating about pork. In 2006 when the NPB purchased the slogan, they saw that it was important to producers to protect it as a valuable asset in advertising.  

HSUS says the National Pork Board “struck an unlawful backroom deal” with the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) in purchasing the slogan from NPPC. NPPC CEO Neil Dierks answered their claim by saying, “NPPC is reviewing the HSUS complaint, but it appears there is no legal merit to this claim, and it is another desperate attempt by the radical activist group to severely curtail animal agriculture and take away consumer food choices. What does merit concern, however, is the fact that HSUS preys on the emotions of domestic pet owners with deceptive advertising and fundraising. It raises money on images of abused puppies without homes, yet virtually none of those funds go to local shelters. Instead those dollars go toward multimillion-dollar campaigns to attack family farmers and American meat production.

“This also is the latest bullying tactic by HSUS in its efforts to force NPPC to abandon its position on allowing farmers to choose production practices that are best for the welfare of their animals. Over the past few months, HSUS has threatened NPPC with a Federal Trade Commission complaint; filed notice of its intent to sue a number of hog operations over alleged emissions reporting violations; and charged that NPPC was responsible for the deaths of hogs in barn fires because the organization asked to give input on national fire standards for agricultural facilities. All of the allegations lack merit.”

The tactics being implemented by HSUS to push pork producers and their boards into their way of thinking is somewhat like the story of the old man feeding his pig apples. That may not sound unusual, but the old farmer was holding the pig up to the tree limbs, allowing it to eat the apples from the limbs one at a time.

A small boy walked by and noticed the strange sight of the farmer lifting his pig up to each limb to eat apples and asked the old man what he was doing. Setting the pig down on the ground, the old man answered and said, “Why son, I’m feeding my pig. Farmers have to take care of their livestock.”

The boy answered back, “Doesn’t that take a long time?”

Lifting the pig back up to the tree, the old man said, “What’s time to a hog?”

It seems the goal and plan of HSUS is to attempt to pick off one at a time pork producers’ efforts to promote their products with the same timeline as the old farmer. What’s time to HSUS if they accomplish their goals?

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 – Pettus L. Read is editor of the Tennessee Farm Bureau News and Director of Communications for the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation. He may be contacted by e-mail at pread@tfbf.com