Missouri’s Amendment 1 has been a fiercely debated issue since its inclusion on the August 5th ballot. Missouri Farmers Care leads the charge in support of this amendment, including a majority of the farming organizations, prominent groups, and citizens all across the state.
The opposition is relying on the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), a Washington D.C.-based radical animal rights group, to rally their cause. The local opposition campaign organization is misleadingly called Missouri’s Food for America, funded primarily by HSUS.
HSUS is working closely with two different individuals who have spent a majority of their time in the last year echoing HSUS’s rhetoric, former Missouri State Senator Wes Shoemyer, and a paid HSUS employee, former Missouri Lieutenant Governor Joe Maxwell.
Missouri’s Food for America is merely HSUS’s front group. HSUS has funded the opposition to the Missouri Farming Rights Amendment in excess of $380,000 (including a hefty check for $375,000, according to the Kansas City Star).
What do these two men, Shoemyer and Maxwell, have in common? They both were involved in Missouri state government, they both are involved in Missouri agriculture, and they both are passionate about defeating Amendment 1. These are all relevant facts, but they are not what make them so interesting.
It is their involvement with HSUS that’s really intriguing. “Involvement” is really a neat way of putting it, or a more accurate description could be said they’re simply pawns in HSUS’s legislative chess game.
Wes Shoemyer – The Ship Jumper
A Democrat from Shelby County, Missouri, Shoemyer was elected to the Missouri House in 2000. In 2006, he used that momentum to run for State Senate and was elected.
Around the same time, he was a member of several national and state farming organizations, one of those being Missouri Farm Bureau. During the 2010 Missouri Prop B battle with HSUS, he was extremely critical and issued strong statements criticizing HSUS:
“These people (HSUS), without any consideration of their fellow man, will do great, great harm to our country. We have to fight them. This is about preserving our rights. This is about preserving our way of life. I hope you get involved in this fight.”
Those words are a far departure from how he assumedly feels now.
In 2010, Shoemyer ran for re-election but was opposed by a fellow Farm Bureau member and state representative Brian Munzlinger. Several agriculture organizations lent their support and donations to Munzlinger’s campaign, including Missouri Farm Bureau. He ended up defeating Shoemyer by a fairly wide margin.
Did this lead to Wes Shoemyer having a vendetta against Missouri Ag groups? While we can’t speak for certain on that, it is rather coincidental that earlier this year he was added to HSUS’s Missouri Ag Council, after taking a few years off from politics. On top of that, HSUS has donated over $380,000 to his group’s campaign, as previously mentioned.
Would it be far-fetched to assume that Shoemyer, having been insulted by farm organizations supporting the candidate that defeated him in 2010, made the decision to jump ship to the organization he once decried as a menace to Missouri agriculture in return for a nifty title with HSUS’s Agriculture Council and financial support for his organization?
Joe Maxwell – The Hired Gun
Joe Maxwell, former Lieutenant Governor of Missouri, is HSUS’s VP of Outreach and Engagement. He has been rather busy the past few months, going around the state on a misinformation tour and strongly opposing Amendment 1.
Surely, he wouldn’t be in this simply for the money and benefits?
You see, Joe Maxwell is also the CEO of Heritage Acres, responsible for a rather sizeable portion of the pork processed in the state. Heritage Acres has also been cited in the past well over a hundred times for inhumane violations.
These violations range from inhumane slaughter and treatment, to meat contamination and unhygienic conditions.
HSUS doesn’t seem to have a problem with Maxwell’s previous inhumane violations. Really, it’s a win-win scenario for both sides. Maxwell earns a VP-level salary and HSUS gets the phony agriculture representative they’ve always dreamed of.
Where Do They Go From Here?
Hopefully you are beginning to see how HSUS’s strategy works. Offer hand picked men and women prominent positions and money, and in return gain a pawn in their cynical legislative chess game seeking to restrict the rights of American farmers, ranchers, and sportsmen under the disguise of promoting “humane” or “sustainable” animal husbandry practices.
This is where Maxwell and Shoemyer fit in.
These men will continue their crusade against Amendment 1. They will feed you the false rhetoric they have been paid to promote.
Look past that and instead focus on what HSUS’s true agenda is. History has shown us that wherever HSUS goes, farmers pay the price.
For example, in 2002 HSUS funded a campaign to give constitutional rights to pigs in Florida. As a result, the pork industry in Florida was virtually eliminated.
In California in 2008, HSUS backed a law that ushered in heavy regulations on housing standards for egg laying hens. Economists warn that the cost to farmers could reach into the hundreds of millions of dollars and families of five or more with lower incomes will be hardest hit by the resulting increase in egg prices. This law is so particularly damaging that the attorneys general of six different states have challenged the constitutionality of it in court.
The European Union is a prime example of how animal rights extremism can negatively impact both producers and consumers. In 1997, Europe as a whole imported 20% of its total food production. After the strict enforcement of “cage-free” production methods on egg producers, among several other mandates, egg prices there have risen over 75% and Europe now imports over 60% of its food.
As you can see, Humane Society’s agenda is less concerned with helping farmers and ranchers, and more about giving rights to animals. Their radical philosophies are particularly frightening when the messaging is being spread through millions of dollars in donations. America’s farmers are now having to spend time trying to defend their work against a Washington D.C.-based fundraising giant that seeks to end animal agriculture.
HSUS has spent millions fighting for the constitutional rights of animals, while fighting to restrict the rights of American farmers and American families.
Now Missourians have the opportunity to reject the backwards priorities of this out-of-state interest group and support the family farmers that grow our food, by voting Yes on Amendment 1.