Heineman repeats HSUS ‘butt kick’ talk


Heineman repeats HSUS ‘butt kick’ talk

HOWELLS — Gov. Dave Heineman isn’t backing down from his comments five months ago about the Humane Society of the United States.

Heineman, who received a standing ovation from a large crowd at the Howells Ballroom before even beginning his speech Thursday night, said the state won’t be intimidated by the Humane Society and other animal rights groups that have pushed for stricter regulations on livestock production.

“They’re out to destroy the American way of life as it pertains to all of you and your kids,” Heineman told attendees of the second annual Central Plains Beef Industry Day, an event organized by Central Plains Milling in Howells. “They want to destroy American farming and ranching.”

The Republican governor acknowledged his somewhat controversial criticism of the Humane Society during a March speech to cattlemen in Lexington when he said Nebraska would kick the group’s backsides if they attempted to enter the state. He reinforced that stance Thursday night.

“I did say it and I’m proud I said it. If they come to Nebraska, we will kick their butt,” said Heineman, who noted that the Humane Society of the United States is separate from the local and state humane societies.

Heineman called on everyone from livestock producers to FFA members in attendance to stand tall on the issue of animal welfare and help protect the state’s top industry of agriculture.

“If they want to come to Nebraska, they’re in for the fight of their life,” he said.

Heineman, one of several state lawmakers to attend the Howells event, has worked to expand Nebraska livestock exports to countries like Japan and China. Agriculture, he said, is the backbone of the state’s economy and a major reason unemployment remains low here.

But to remain strong through the current drought and period of high commodity prices, Heineman said livestock and crop producers must stick together.

“I want to make sure that we keep united,” said Heineman, who was joined at the event by District 22 Sen. Chris Langemeier of Schuyler, Speaker of the Legislature Mike Flood of Norfolk and Republican U.S. Senate candidate Deb Fischer, a state senator from Valentine.

More than 450 area farmers and livestock producers also attended the Beef Industry Day.

Like Heineman, Hugh Whaley, the evening’s keynote speaker, understands the pressures facing livestock producers.

Whaley, the general manager of the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, said the Humane Society of the United States and other organizations are making it difficult to raise livestock.

But, he added, these challenges didn’t happen overnight.

Whaley challenged livestock producers to begin openly discussing their methods with consumers, critics and policymakers, instead of simply reacting to negative information about the industry.

“We’re talking in one voice and we’re not sitting back on our heels waiting for the next attack,” Whaley said of his organization, which was formed in November 2010 and now has 19 board members, 19 industry partners and 60 non-profit affiliates from numerous ag-related sectors.

The U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, which Whaley said has no interest in lobbying or policy making, has goals of enhancing consumer trust in the country’s food production system, protecting producers’ freedom to operate, maintaining the environment and raising animals in a safe manner.

While most consumers respect farmers, Whaley said, they are concerned about how farms, ranches and feedlots are run and how the end products will affect their health long-term.

The alliance is working with the mainstream media, lawmakers and regulators to clarify the issues, Whaley said, but each individual producer can play a role by talking to their friends and family or engaging consumers through social media.

According to Whaley, the old arguments that U.S. food production is safe, affordable and abundant simply aren’t good enough for today’s consumers.

“That’s still true, but what it’s not doing is building any confidence,” he said. “It’s a given. They expect safe, affordable, nutritious and abundant.”

~ by topcatsroar on August 17, 2012.

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