Scott Pruitt has a history of standing up to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), and now he’s done it again as Secretary of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Back in 2009, along with a number of its animal rights and activist environmentalist organization cohorts, HSUS submitted a petition to the EPA requesting that Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) be listed as major sources of air pollution that endangers public health or welfare under the Clean Air Act. Doing so would require that the EPA promulgate rules and regulations for performance standards for any new or existing CAFO operations. Just like coal plants and cars, animal agriculture operations would have to submit to costly and onerous regulations to reduce or eliminate air pollution, which normally comes in the form of animal waste.
The HSUS agenda is to end animal agriculture in the United States. With the use of misleading advertising, the animal rights organization solicits donations from people who think HSUS helps poor, defenseless pets. However, the organization donates less than 1% of its annual budget to local humane shelters. It uses the money to instead fund anti-agriculture ballot measures and campaigns across the country.
This petition was another attempt by HSUS to end family animal agriculture operations.
HSUS claims that the petition would only impact the largest industrial agriculture players, while protecting small farmers, because it targeted CAFOs. By forcing CAFOs to be regulated by the Clean Air Act, HSUS claimed the quality of life for farm animals would improve, small farms would prosper, and we would see environmental benefits. But the term CAFO has been distorted by animal rights activists using calculated campaigns to have negative connotations in the public. Most people now wrongly associate CAFOs with factory farming, poor animal health, and animal abuse.
In reality, a CAFO is simply an animal operation that keeps its animals in barns, instead of outside and on pasture. The USDA defines a CAFO as:
an agricultural operations where animals are kept and raised in confined situations. AFOs congregate animals, feed, manure and urine, dead animals, and production operations on a small land area. Feed is brought to the animals rather than the animals grazing or otherwise seeking feed in pastures, fields, or on rangeland.
As long as a farm keeps its animals inside a barn for 45 or more days in a 12 month period, it is considered a CAFO. As you can imagine, even a small family farm can be considered a CAFO, especially if the farm is located in regions of the country with harsh winters.
That means that HSUS’s petition to the EPA targeted large farms and small farms. It has nothing to do with how the animals are treated, what type of feed the animals consume, or the conditions on the farm. In other words, HSUS sought to impose additional and costly regulations on family farmers across the country under the guise of helping animals and the environment.
That seems a bit disingenuous to me.
All farmers, small and large, take animal care and welfare seriously. We also care about the environment and understand how important it is to protect our natural resources. All farms, and even more so CAFOs, are regulated by the federal and state governments for protection of the animals and the environment. (In fact, some farms have figured out how to turn those cow farts into electricity.) Quite frankly, reading HSUS’s petition would lead one to believe that walking onto an animal operation is like entering a nuclear waste site that’s going to cause you to keel over immediately. While I appreciate the concern about combating climate change (which was supposedly the aim of this petition) crushing our family farmers with additional regulations is not the answer.
Major props to the EPA for denying this petition and HSUS’s latest attempt to crush family farmers. Unfortunately, I think it is very likely that HSUS will use a bunch of that donor money to now fight this battle in court. We shall see.
Philip McArdle says
Thank you Scott Pruitt!!!
Beth R says
Wow, I didn’t realize the CAFO regs were defining operations in that manner (hard to believe that family farms would have the same air pollution impacts as a coal-fired power plant). Neither did I realize that H$U$ was commenting on environmental regulations related to AIR pollution . . . since when does air pollution have anything to do with the humane treatment of animals. Yep, H$U$ staying focused on their core purpose … NOT!
This must be the only thing Scott Pruitt has done that I can agree with him on! The intent of the Trump Administration is to deregulate all the regulations (dating back to at least the Nixon Administration) that help keep our air and water clean. We can battle the HSUS without completely selling out to the worst of other groups!
amy wilsch says
amanda, this is so slanted and you obviously did *just* enough research to sound like you’re being rational, but your’e not. HSUS has a LONG history of going after abuse in the farming industry. “All farmers, small and large, take animal care and welfare seriously. We also care about the environment and understand how important it is to protect our natural resources. ” This statement is a total joke. You care about it as far as it hurts your bottom line. If you *actually* cared you would know full on well that institutionalized animal farming and agricultural abuse are leading causes of environmental harm. Plus, in another 50-75 years they’re going to look at us as barbaric for the sheer volume of animals we raise to slaughter and eat. We get it – you like to farm, you probably don’t know much else, and it’s your income. Stop putting your head in the sand and talk like a rational person who sees the good and bad and then maybe then you can be taken seriously.
Actually, Amy, my bottom line has nothing to do with it. I’m a lawyer, not a farmer. My income is not bound to animal agriculture. For that matter, neither is my family’s income. We have always been crop farmers. Though, I think it is interesting that you said “you probably don’t know much else.” So, just because you disagree with me you assume that I’m some kind of talentless, unskilled farmer that can’t do anything else? I think that speaks more to your biases than anything else.
As to your comments about animal agriculture and animal abuse, I have based my opinions on the wonderful family farmers I know and have met through my blog. I enjoy learning from and talking to them because the passion they have for animals is always apparent. I know, without a doubt, that they care about the animals they are raising. You should try talking to some of them and I think you would see it too. I actually did an entire series highlighting what various farmers think about animal care, welfare, and profits. I suggest taking a look at it, which will also give you an opportunity to find some of those folks on social media. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. You can find the article on animal welfare here: https://www.thefarmersdaughterusa.com/2016/10/animal-farmers-talk-animal-welfare.html