The battle against HSUS and for the rights of farmers came to the Indiana Statehouse last week. Protect the Harvest held a meet and greet at the State Capitol on Thursday. The event brought a wide, cross section of Indiana agriculture together to meet with legislators and state officials. Protect the Harvest founder Forrest Lucas told HAT state lawmakers need to hear the story of agriculture, “We can talk all we want, but this is where the action is; here are the people making the laws.” Lucas said the large gathering demonstrated to lawmakers just how serious agriculture is about protecting their business and way of life from radical activist forces. There was plenty of heavy duty lobbying going on at the event as there are several pieces of legislation before lawmakers that deal with farmers’ right to farm, raise animals, and use technology. Groups, like the Hoosier Environmental Council and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), have been very vocal in their opposition to these measures.
Lucas told HAT activist groups like HSUS are targeting state legislatures trying to get anti-agriculture laws and regulations passed. He said Indiana has become a battleground state, “I think we are seeing more activity here than in almost any other state.” He added not only does agriculture have to come together to defend animal agriculture, but also to defend a farmers right to use approved technology, including biotechnology, “Biotechnology is very much under attack. They have stopped biotechnology in Europe, and now those countries can’t feed themselves.”
Lucas explained that the aim of Protect the Harvest is to expose the real agenda of groups like HSUS, “We have to show people who these groups really are. Once people understand what they are really all about, they will not want anything to do with them.” Protect the Harvest brought several state lawmakers from Missouri to the event to discuss how HSUS almost destroyed Missouri agriculture with Proposition B. They said it was the money and organization of Protect the Harvest that helped them turn around public opinion in support of Missouri farmers. PTH is active in several states and has had success in not only defending the rights of farmers but also of hunters and fishermen.
The founder of the Lucas Oil Products, from Corydon, IN, has put millions of his own dollars into this effort and feels, if agriculture can come together, the activists can be stopped, “If we work together I think we can change things around in the next 5 years.” Several representatives of Indiana farm groups attended the event including Indiana Farm Bureau and the Indiana Beef Cattle Association. While these groups support the aims of PTH, they keep their support low profile because of the aggressive and candid approach of PTH. IBCA, however, has supported Protect the Harvest financially and is currently conducting a fundraising promotion for the organization.
A group not timid about their support for PTH is the Indiana Council for Animal Welfare, an organization that represents the state’s animal breeding industry. This group helped beat back an HSUS-backed Puppy Mill bill in 2009.
The gathering drew a large crowd, and even Governor Pence stopped by. But so did representatives of HSUS, who stood in the balcony above, shook their heads, and rolled their eyes.