Meat of the Matter: A mission with a message

The fattest of the fat-cat lobbyists working to deep-six animal agriculture is promoting an award contest that's really a marketing campaign. So let's turn their own game against them.

I have an assignment I'd like you to accept.

And no, the secretary won't disavow your participation should you "fail" to complete the mission.

In one of a never-ending series of self-promotional stunts, the activists at the Humane Society of the United States, which loves to label itself as "the nation's largest animal protection organization" I'll give them "largest" and :"organization" is running a publicity campaign disguised as a recognition of a deserving school teacher.

Here's the introduction to HSUS's announcement, before they even get to the part about soliciting nominations:

"The Humane Society of the United States advocates for better laws to protect animals; conducts campaigns to reform animal-related industries; provides animal rescue and emergency response services; investigates cases of animal cruelty; and cares for animals through its sanctuaries and wildlife rehabilitation centers, emergency shelters, and clinics."

Interesting how the group prioritizes its activities lobbying first, actually caring for animals last. Of course, their primary mission in life, which they conveniently "forgot" to mention, is fundraising. That's what they're really all about: Signing up as many soft-hearted suckers as possible to fork over their cash in the belief that the money's going to help some starving puppy or provide veterinary care for a sick kitten.

Just ask your local Humane Society, which is not affiliated with HSUS, how much of those tens of millions of dollars HSUS rakes in actually filters down to the local level, and in the process of answering that question, don't be surprised when the folks who run those shelters ask you for a contribution. Because they're starved for funding, while HSUS spends a big piece of its time figuring out which offshore accounts are best to stash their dough.

A wave of nominations

So here's the mission: The Humane Society of the United States Foundation annually honors a K-12 teacher who "consistently incorporates humane education into his or her curriculum and/or motivates students to get involved in community service for animals." To be eligible, nominees must include "humane lessons in the curriculum or inspire students to act on behalf of animals."

And here's the best part: "Self-nominations are accepted."

The eventual winner is given the HSUS National Kind Teacher Award.

You're probably wondering the same thing I am: Does the award come with a check, seeing as how your typical K-12 teacher isn't exactly getting rich working what is typically 50 to 60 hours a week?

Answer: Sorry, teach. But hey, the winner receives a framed certificate (wow) and a scholarship to the Humane Society University's Certified Humane Education Specialist program (double wow).

I mean, seriously? You can't kick in a $50 Amazon gift card with that "framed certificate?" From an organization that annually rakes in more than 100 million in contributions? Please.

So here's my idea: I'd like to see HSUS receive dozens no, make that hundreds of nominations of teachers out there who talk to their students about farming, about raising livestock, about animal husbandry, about the economic, environmental and nutritional contributions of American's producers and growers.

So here's the link to the HSUS form to nominate a teacher for award: National Kind Teacher Award

I would love to see a flood of entries from the heartland piling up in HSUS's cushy offices.

That way, maybe it might dawn on that self-serving, self-aggrandizing group that being "kind" to animals isn't limited to protest activities from a bunch of soy burger-scarfing do-gooders who never milked a cow, fed a steer, hauled a bale of hay or did any of the other endless tasks our nation's livestock producers routinely do on a daily basis in order to provide families with healthy, nutritious, natural foods.

And even if enlightenment doesn't strike the HSUS staff, just the irritation factor in processing a whole bunch of submissions from farm and cattle country would be well worth the effort.

Dan Murphy is a food-industry journalist and commentator.