Rick Berman,executive director of the Center for Consumer Freedom, has been a staunch opponent of the Humane Society of the United States and has made critical comments, both verbally and in writing, about the Egg Bill. I have commented on Mr. Berman's statements in two prior blog posts: The rest of agriculture won’t be hurt by the Egg Bill and later Egg Bill is not the Munich agreement and Gregory not Neville Chamberlain. In response to my last blog post on his comments, Mr. Berman sent me this reply in which he countered some of the points that I made. Mr. Berman's viewpoint is his own, and it doesn't represent the opinion of either me or WATTAgNet.com. He does make a correction to one statement that I made in error. I said that egg producers lost ballot initiative votes in Ohio and Michigan. Mr. Berman correctly points out that deals were struck between egg producers and animal rights advocates prior to the ballot initiatives being voted on.
As always, WATTAgNet.com welcomes your comments and opinions, whether you agree or disagree with any of our bloggers.
Here is Mr. Berman's reply:
Egg on their face
In the recounting the past there are times when those writing a historical account airbrush out of the picture or simply brush over inconvenient truths. One such time occurred last week. In his attempt to defend an indefensible series of mistakes by the United Egg Producers leadership, WATT AG editor Terrence O’Keefe took issue with my characterization of how the California egg producers and subsequently the UEP got in bed with their long term enemy, the Humane Society of the United States. In particular, he didn’t agree with my comparison of the situation to Neville Chamberlain’s naïve kowtowing to an aggressive Nazi regime.
Former Senator Daniel Moynihan famously observed that people are entitled to their own opinion but not their own facts. As evidence of that observation take a look at some of those manufactured facts from O’Keefe and the truth that trumps them.
- “The [federal] Egg Bill preserves the use of cages with a transition to fully-enriched colony cages.” Not true. The law proposes enriched cages today, but it does not “preserve” the use of cages. The square-inch regulations can be changed by future late-night amendments passed by Congress. And I’d bet the farm that that’s exactly what HSUS, PETA, and others have in mind. (Hint: They are already supporting “cage-free” eggs with retailers). And HSUS was coincidently the instigator of the anti-trust pricing complaint to the FTC that has already cost one company $28 million. Increasing egg prices have nothing to do with an animal “humane society.” HSUS simply sought to destroy egg farmers.
- “United Egg Producers has lost ballot initiatives in important egg producing states like California, Michigan and Ohio.” It’s true that UEP lost in California --and we warned them they had a message that was designed to fail. But there were no initiatives in Michigan and Ohio. Instead, local farm groups cut deals to avoid ballot initiatives. I assume the retort to this will be that egg producers thought they’d lose. The facts are you miss every shot you don’t take and you can’t win by starting out conceding a loss.
- “I actually think that the Human Society of the United State's investments in these animal product substitutes are some of the most honest things they use their money for.” I haven’t seen any HSUS ads — anywhere — that have “honestly” said donor money is going to be siphoned off into vegan venture capital. Donors believe their money is going to help shelter pets not synthetic egg products. And there is no “honest” mention of this diversion on the HSUS’s website. Query, in the interest of being “honest,” did HSUS reveal these investments to the egg industry?
- “Where were you [other animal ag industries] and your wallets when egg producers were fighting ballot initiatives?” I understand if egg farmers feel begrudged about their current situation, though it’s not the job of other industries to invest in defending eggs—especially when the CA campaign strategy was well funded but strategically flawed. But the past is the past. I am hopeful that all of animal agriculture will pick up the general fight against HSUS. The pork industry has. The other sectors may soon be targets, especially given HSUS’s recent shots at dairy and poultry. The coalition should include the egg industry.
Perhaps a better analogy for the egg industry’s current situation — if you don’t embrace the Chamberlain comparison — would be Stockholm Syndrome, first used to describe hostages in a bank robbery who became attached to the captors.
Whatever comparison you prefer, historical parallels are never 100-percent analogous, but they offer a comparison that people can understand. What’s important is that the domestic egg industry doesn’t become history. And that’s the direction it is heading in as long as it dances with vegan zealots.