HSUS Mainstream or Extreme Voice on Animal Issues?

Wayne Pacelle meets with Humane Society of the United States supporters in Nebraska

Are they a mainstream voice for animals or public enemy number one for our state's top industry? The Humane Society of the United States visits Nebraska, saying they're trying to help farmers.

"I think the industrialization we've seen take root over the last 30 years has been disastrous," Wayne Pacelle says.

Few are more outspoken critics of modern agriculture than the CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, who says so-called factory farming must end.

He said, "It's not acceptable to consumers to confine animals in cages that do not allow it to move. (Is that true, because consumers readily spend dollars, vote with their dollars?) That's true, but I think things are changing."

Critics contend HSUS misleads donors who mistakenly believe they're supporting a network of local shelters.
Pacelle fires back, saying no one does more hands on work with animals. And he said donors know their money is supporting the big picture policy work the group does.

"You support us, you're supporting an organization helping all animals in a mainstream way," he said.
Governor Dave Heineman has been among the most vocal critic of HSUS, previously saying he wanted to kick their collective butt.
In a statement to NTV, he said, "The policies promoted by the Humane Society of the United States are anti-agriculture and HSUS is out to destroy the number one industry in our state."

But Pacelle says they're working with farmers like those they gathered with on an organic dairy near Lincoln.
Jim Knopik of North Star Neighbors cooperative near Fullerton said HSUS only wants to raise standards for farmers like himself.

Knopik said, "I'd rather see it done by individuals than by regulations."

Farmers Union is also on board, despite some initial hesitation by the group's members.

John Hansen said, "If we partner with HSUS and help use resources to create new markets, how can that not be a good thing?"
Pacelle said they want farmers to be more sustainable, and more profitable.
He said, "When you value real farming, artisanal farming, where farmers show skill, you can command a higher price for that."

We Support Agriculture, a coalition of farm groups says maybe the elite can afford higher meat price, but they counter hard working Nebraskans value affordability at the grocery store.
However, Pacelle says farmers value production over animals.

"Animal welfare may not be central to the psyche of farmers," he said.

A spokesman for We Support Ag disagrees, saying farmers are the original caretakers of land and animals.
And they say Pacelle is out of step with Nebraska, but he says it's those so-called "industrial farmers" who miss the mark.

The polarizing CEO said, "The values we're espousing are right in the mainstream of Nebraska."
HSUS has created a farm council in Nebraska, they say to add value through promotion of hormone and cage free products.

But local farm groups say HSUS is just trying to legitimize a radical agenda by making Nebraska farmers the face of the movement.