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STENHOLM: Wrong approach to animal rights
Misguided legislation could be another blow to job creation
Question of the Day
Earlier this month, Rep. James P. Moran united with a retired game-show host and a foreign-based animal rights group to introduce legislation that, if passed, would mean not just the end of our cotton-candy memories of the three-ring circus but also the elimination of hundreds of jobs in Mr. Moran’s district and thousands more jobs around the country in numerous cities and states. This unnecessary and misguided legislation is being pushed in the name of an extreme animal rights agenda at the expense of jobs all over this country.
The introduction of this bill and the corresponding theatrical press conference is just the latest example of animal rights extremists pushing their radical agenda under the guise of helping animals. Increasingly, groups such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), Animal Defenders International (ADI) and their extremist friends have used falsehoods and scare tactics to increase their fundraising and push their agenda of systematically abolishing all use of animals, including in production agriculture, exhibitions and sporting events. Some of these groups may try to separate themselves from the rest of the pack of extreme radicals, but they are all the same, with the same goal: complete abolishment of animal ownership. That’s right - they do not even want you to own pets. The world these groups envision (I think) is not one in which most Americans would want to live.
Last year, PETA was given a $1.4 million donation from a wealthy animal rights activist. At the time, PETA claimed $1 million of that donation would be used to help baby elephants in the circus, but where has that money gone? Instead of using its millions of dollars in donations on things that would make a significant impact on the preservation of endangered species such as disease research or targeted breeding programs, PETA continues to rub elbows with celebrities, lobby Congress and harass livestock producers and animal exhibitors in the hopes of putting them out of business. In fact, in the past few weeks, PETA even has filed a lawsuit against Sea World claiming the keeping of orcas in its aquariums violates the prohibition against slavery found in the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Yes, slavery.
In the past few years, HSUS and its cohorts have been spreading their reach throughout the country, pushing their agenda and promoting policies that are decimating industries and adding more costs to consumers. Take California and Florida, for example: Many California egg producers and Florida pork producers have been forced out of business because of regulations established by ballot initiatives that were pushed through by HSUS. These excessive regulations subsequently have caused the targeted industries to take their business elsewhere, leaving consumers with fewer choices and increased costs. More recently, dog owners in Missouri and farmers in Ohio have been targeted, and HSUS and other activist groups are becoming more brazen. Because of the policies HSUS and its counterparts advocated, the number of unwanted horses has increased to unsustainable levels and the U.S. horse industry is hemorrhaging jobs. Just as Mr. Moran’s misguided legislation would do, the policies continually advocated by HSUS and other organizations have caused serious damage to the job market in this country. These policies have real-world ramifications that are affecting American businesses and consumers alike. Who knows when they will move in on your state and your hometown?
The many industries that I work with, whether horse racing, zoos, circuses, rodeos, cattle ranchers, egg producers, or sheep and goat raisers, care about the welfare of their animals. Their No. 1 priority has to be the health and well-being of their animals, and they have not been given the credit they are due by animal rights activists, celebrity or otherwise. Instead of spending valuable time working on solutions to problems that are affecting Americans every day, too many of my former colleagues are listening to these overzealous activists as they continue to attack industries they know little to nothing about - industries that are putting food on American tables, clothes on our backs, and providing quality education and family entertainment for our children and grandchildren. When can we say, “Enough is enough”?
Former Rep. Charles W. Stenholm, Texas Democrat, is a senior policy adviser at Olsson, Frank, Weeda law firm, which focuses on agricultural issues. He was ranking member of the House Committee on Agriculture and is a member of the Farm Foundation Round Table.
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