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Nebraska Farmers and Ranchers Challenge Gov. Heineman’s Claims about Agriculture and HSUS

A group of farmers and ranchers who are members of the Nebraska Agriculture Council of The Humane Society of the United States today sent a letter  to Gov. Dave Heineman challenging his repeated claims about agriculture and The HSUS. The group of Nebraska farmers and ranchers says that Gov. Heineman’s actions are hurting family farms, and he should cease his divisive rhetoric such as recently saying he wants to “kick [The HSUS’] butt.” 

Included with the letter was a copy of the Nebraska Agriculture Council of The HSUS’ video demonstrating the collaborative efforts of the council to restore sustainable, more humane agriculture to the state. The group of Nebraska farmers and ranchers has also requested a meeting with Gov. Heineman to discuss their work of promoting sustainable agriculture.

“We are deeply committed to opening markets for humane, sustainable family farmers and ranchers,” the group of Nebraska farmers and ranchers wrote in the letter to the governor. “Our effort will help put the farmers and ranchers and their animals back on the land right here at home, and restore our rural communities to prosperity.”

The Nebraska Farmers Union, one of the oldest farm organizations in the state, joined with The HSUS to form the Nebraska Agriculture Council with the goal of bringing local livestock producers and humane-minded consumers to the table to discuss ways to increase access to products from family farms that promote animal welfare and do not use industrial methods such as extreme confinement in crates and cages. The council aims to open markets for family farmers and help to grow healthy rural economies.

Members of the Nebraska Agriculture Council of The HSUS include:

  • Kevin Fulton, operator of Fulton Farms, a 2,800-acre organic grazing operation where he produces and markets grass-fed beef and does custom grazing.
  • Jim Knopik, founder and manager of North Star Neighbors which sells beef, pork, lamb, chicken, turkey and duck.
  • Doug Dittman, co-owner and operator of Branched Oak Farm, a certified organic dairy with an on-farm creamery.
  • Martin Kleinschmidt, a Nebraska cattle rancher with 40 years of experience as a sustainable farmer.
  • Jon Yoachim, owner and operator of Open Sky Farm, which uses sustainable practices to raise cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens, ducks, and turkeys, as well as fruits and vegetables.

The values espoused by the Nebraska Agriculture Council of The HSUS are in line with consumer preferences evidenced by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's rural poll in July of 2011. The poll showed that 69 percent of rural respondents believe that animal welfare includes adequate exercise, space and activities, as well as food, water and shelter. In fact, since February of this year, dozens of corporations, such as McDonald’s and Cracker Barrel, have recognized this demand for more humane products and are requiring that their supply chains end the use of gestation crates for sows.

Media contact: Anna West, 301-258-1518, awest@humanesociety.org

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