Local Farm Bureau partners with RCHS

Wanda English Burnett

Ripley County Farm Bureau President Paul Anderson put a check behind his pledge to support the local Ripley County Humane Society (RCHS) recently showing teamwork between the two county agencies.

While Farm Bureau has taken a stand against the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), local officials wanted to make it clear they are not against local humane societies such as the well-organized one in Ripley County.

“We have come here to show you we’re not your enemy,” Anderson stated to Jan Barnes, board member of the RCHS.

Anderson explained that the HSUS campaigned for animal rights in the State of California and won. While he’s all for animal rights, Anderson noted that the changes to the egg, veal and pork production in that state will hurt farmers and consumers.

Noting that caging of laying hens and sow gestation crates will be outlawed in that state, Anderson said the new rules imposed on farmers will make it costly for them to operate. He further noted that as a long-time farmer, he knows it’s not even in the best interest of the animal itself.

However, the State of California allows a ballot initiative (Proposition 2) where instead of having legislators hash out laws, people can vote directly. Anderson said he doesn’t feel the people knew enough about the farming industry to make an informed decision, but instead listened to propaganda provided by the HSUS tugging on their heart strings about how animals were being housed.
“Farm animals are different from your house pet,” Anderson noted.

Barnes agreed with the statement, but both were adamant that even farm animals should have good care. “For example, we used to put rings in hogs noses,” Anderson said. Now, with the hogs being raised in a climate controlled inside area, they no longer have to have this. The rings were to keep the hogs from rooting up around the fence and escaping.

The nationwide humane society group wants to ban the confinement of farm animals and only have them run free. Anderson says that’s okay if you have a couple of cows and a few chickens. It’s not okay if you’re a big production company such as the operation one county away, Rose Acre Farms where they have 21 million chickens on 15 farms.

Anderson explained that chickens in cages are much more productive, cleaner, and get overall better care. He told how when chickens are allowed to roam free, they will all flock to one area in a storm and smother the ones on the bottom. The cages provide a stress-free environment where the chickens are protected from predators such as foxes, hawks and more.

Anderson provided information that the HSUS is now in Ohio trying to get the same laws passed as in California. “They are making a thrust to the midwest, and Indiana Farm Bureau is standing up for farmers,” Anderson noted.

Brad Ponsler, Indiana Farm Bureau Regional Manager, noted, “The group (HSUS) is a huge threat to agriculture.” While he noted that Indiana is not a ballot state, he said the concern is still there.

Farm Bureau wants to partner with the Indiana Department of Education to bring agriculture education into the classroom. While there is limited education on the farming industry now, Anderson and Ponsler hope to see it blossom with students learning exactly where their food comes from.

“I think we’re (farmers) loosing the edge by not educating,” Anderson noted. “We’re trying to save our food supply,” he continued.

Anderson is a big proponent of locally grown meats, saying you know exactly where they come from, how they’re raised, making them better choices for consumers. He feels the new laws will drive food prices up even higher than they are now. He says the HSUS solicits money from people with the overwhelming misconception they are somehow connected to local animal shelters.

Barnes noted that they have received no funds from this group. The local shelter runs solely on donations, which they are grateful for. Barnes said volunteers make it possible to keep the operation going and anyone interested is welcome. She said children are wonderful with socialization for the animals. They must be accompanied by an adult if under the age of 18. She said the shelter is always in need of items for the animals and all donations are greatly appreciated.

About farm animals, Barnes said her concerns were that they be kept clean, fed and watered and treated humanely. “Are farm animals not put on this earth to feed us?” she questioned. She cited puppy mills that have horrendous conditions, saying there are good and bad operations with anything.

Anderson said the United States has the “best agriculture system in the world,” and he wants it to stay that way. For more information on the situation with the HSUS and Farm Bureau, you can stop by the Farm Bureau booth at the upcoming Ripley County 4-H Fair set to start Sunday, July 19 and run through July 26. “We’ll have information on this at our booth, and also some great ice cream,” laughed Anderson.

“Every American citizen should know about where their food comes from,” Anderson concluded, stressing that everyone should get involved and find out the facts for themselves.

The Ripley County Humane Society is located at 1202 West County Road 150 North, between Osgood and Versailles off US 421. You can call 812-689-3773 for more information or email: info@rchumane.org.