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.