The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) recently announced a new scorecard tracking food brands’ progress toward pledges of sourcing only cage-free eggs that many companies made a few years ago. Wondering why HSUS feels they have the authority to monitor what products companies offer to their customers? The answer is alarming – and not just for egg producers.
Any company involved in the production, processing and retailing of milk, meat and eggs has one thing in common – the potential to be targeted by extreme animal rights organizations. These groups are opposed to people using animals for any reason, including for consumption. Among the many tactics used to advance their goal of eliminating animal agriculture and taking animal products off of our plates, one is of primary concern to any consumer-facing food brand (and the farmers who supply them) – pressure campaigns and pushing for “incremental changes.”
By pressuring nationwide food brands to adopt certain policies, activist organizations force the implantation of supplier requirements under the guise of animal welfare – even if the policy doesn’t truly benefit animals. The underlying motive of their requested changes or demands, which are almost always very costly for farmers to implement, is to make food production less efficient and drive up food costs, forcing consumers to make tough choices about what they can afford. The pork industry knows this all too well from activist campaigns in 2012 that pushed companies like McDonald’s, Target and Costco to agree to phasing out the use of gestation stalls in their supply chains.
Activists have explained this strategy at recent conferences in sessions with titles like “Running pressure campaigns: starting friendly, making demands, escalating pressure.” In their own words:
- “When it is time to launch the campaign, find a vulnerable target, prepare everything for at least a few weeks and then assemble an overwhelming force to utilize from day one.”
- “It’s about getting animals off the menu, not accommodating to vegans” (regarding campaigns to offer more vegan options).
- “I recommend putting blood drips on their [food companies’] logo.”
- “They [food companies] don’t make policies due to altruism, they do it because of the pressure.”
Consumer-facing brands and companies already face an enormous amount of pressure to remain competitive, and dealing with the threat of a reputation-damaging initiative by an activist group doesn’t help the situation. Everyone involved in the production and sale of meat, poultry, milk and eggs is in this fight together – and must provide support to one another when one link of the supply chain is under activist pressure.