For a few years, it seemed the Humane Society of the United States was on the rise in its ballot campaigns. It’s hard to say that now. Despite putting in nearly $500,000 to the “No” campaign opposing Missouri Amendment 1, a “Right to Farm” measure, HSUS lost last night in a narrow vote. It is the latest in a string of losses.
It’s a close loss, probably narrower than it should have been, but it’s a loss all the same. HSUS tried to pull out all the tricks in the book. It tried to gin up bad press and smear its opponents at the last minute. HSUS had a farmer or two on the payroll like Joe Maxwell flacking against the amendment. And HSUS even brought out the China specter, insinuating that in the worst case scenario, the Middle Kingdom is going to start buying up Missouri farmland (as if the American family farmers in support of the amendment want that to happen).
But, despite the demagoguery and smoke-and-mirrors, HSUS lost. HSUS has also lost a number of other initiatives in recent years:
- HSUS lost a fight in 2010 in North Dakota to ban hunting on private ranches.
- HSUS narrowly won its “Prop B” ballot measure in 2010 in Missouri, but the legislature promptly gutted the measure and created a more reasonable, bipartisan compromise.
- HSUS tried to run an initiative in Colorado to ban tail docking of cows this year. HSUS withdrew its initiative after being outfoxed at the title board.
- HSUS lost a measure in North Dakota in 2012 that would have increased animal cruelty penalties, while also losing on a “right to farm” measure.
“Right to farm” is similar to the idea behind “right to hunt and fish” protections that exist in at least 17 states. Those measures are, of course, opposed by HSUS as well, since the organization is against hunting.
It’s not just at the ballot box that HSUS has had trouble. A number of its signature legislation efforts have gone nowhere, even in seemingly friendly states. For instance, HSUS has been canvassing and campaigning all across New England to try to get states to ban the use of individual maternity pens. There aren’t many pork farmers in these states compared to the Midwest, and there certainly aren’t many who use maternity pens. Yet HSUS hasn’t been able to pass a ban in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Connecticut (or New Jersey or New York) in the past two years despite sinking lots of donor dollars in the effort.
Are the fat cats at HSUS who drop $500k on campaigns nothing more than paper tigers? Probably not. But apparently they aren’t as slick as they think they are, either.