Dear Mr. Pacelle,
Your recent “urgent request for help” caught my attention. First I passed it off as another attempt to line your deep coffers with the goal of “raising $200,000 as a ‘counterpunch’ to one of our more persistent critics.” Then I rolled my eyes at hypocrisy of your description of Richard Berman and David Martosko as “shadowy flim-flam artists” and “an unprincipled group that gleefully stands in the way of all efforts to help animals so long as someone pays them to do it.” Given the fact that the Humane Society of the United States runs campaigns that Mike Rowe’s website has pointed to as “unethical” and law students held up as a bad example of fundraising, your name-calling seemed a bit extreme.
But I took note when you said that Berman & Martosko “openly encouraged factory farming interests to protest against a corporate partner of The HSUS. This partner company donated $100,000 to help cover the costs of our animal rescue efforts.” The only factory here is HSUS spin-doctoring. If you take a look at the backlash to Yellow Tail’s ill-fated decision to add to your $200,000,000 in assets (as reported to the IRS), it will likely give you a few tips about a genuine grassroots movement.
You see, those of us in agriculture care deeply about values such as community, work ethic and standing up for what’s right. While your sensationalized videos try to paint a different image, farmers and ranchers pour their lifetimes into their land and animals – because they care enough to do what’s right – even in 4 feet of snow, floods and hurricanes. Perhaps it’s difficult for you to relate to those values since HSUS only spent $7 million of the $34 million you raised around Hurricane Katrina for helping animals in that area. Given the way you’ve worked to divide sectors within agriculture, I know you understand that people in our business are independent-minded and don’t take kindly to being told what to do. That’s exactly why your theory of Berman & Martosko doesn’t fly. Let’s take a look at the timeline to see if this was a “corporate” effort or genuinely grassroots.
- Jan. 25 – 75 tweets mentioning YellowTail
- Jan. 27 – Sportsmans Alliance wrote a letter to Deutsch & Sons LTD
- Jan. 29 – 150+ mentions of YellowTail on Twitter
- Feb 3 a.m. – Troy Hadrick posted on Yellowtail’s facebook page, then mentioned it on Advocates For Ag FB page and Twitter
- Feb 3 –Yellow Fail Created on Facebook
- Feb 3 5:42 p.m. – Yellowtail tweeted an update
- Feb 3 & 4 – Over 1500 tweets/day mentioning YellowTail
- Feb 4 – Troy Hadrick blogs about YellowTail
- Feb 4 – 5:08 p.m. Yellowtail announced funds go to animal rescue
- Feb 4 – Yours truly blogs & tweets about Cute Kittens, Playful Puppies and HSUS Lies
- Feb 4 – Corn Commentary Blog
- Feb 4 – Hundreds of comments posted on YellowTail Facebook fan page
- Feb 4 – Drovers: Just Say G’Day to Yellow Tail
- Feb 4 – Agropinion blog
- Feb 4 – Beef daily blog
- Feb 5 – Discussion started on CNN and Fox FB pages after hundreds of comments are posted on YellowTail Fan Page
- Feb 5 – 1:45 pm Nebraska TV picked the story up
- Feb 5 – Twibbon was created by Brian Hoffman
- Feb 5 – Troy Hadrick posted video on FB
- Feb 6 – Facebook posts & tweets continue – many from outside of agriculture
- Feb 6 – Trent Loos goes on air with NTV
- Feb 6 – Mentioned in Lake County IL News
- Feb 7 – Blog on Toughsledding
- Feb 7 – Agropinion blog #2
- Feb 8 – Mentioned on agwired
- Feb 8 – Consumer Freedom mentions Yellow Tail in their daily update
- Feb 9 – Oklahoma Farm Report
- Feb 9 – Farm and Dairy
- Feb 9 – Going Local FB page posted & announced on Twitter to help people protesting YellowTail’s HSUS contribution learn how to support their local animal shelter.
- Feb 10 – Drovers article
- Feb 10 – High Plains/Midwest Ag Journal
- Feb 10 – Smarter Faster, SM blog
- Feb 10 – Animal Ag Alliance sent letter
- Feb 12 – PR Daily News mention of Drovers article
- Feb 13 – American Farm Bureau Federation Bob Stallman sends letter
- Feb 14 – New York Post
- Feb 15 – DR Vino Blog
And the list continues…with thousands of folks inside and outside of agriculture expressing their opinion to YellowTail. YellowFail on Facebook is getting more than two thousand views daily. Sportsmen and pet owners have spoken out with voices as loud as the farm community. Mr. Pacelle, this is a genuine grassroots effort because people want to let YellowTail know it’s wrong to support an organization with questionable campaigning. You can see that Consumer Freedom (Berman and Martosko’s group) didn’t post anything until several days into the YellowTail backlash. The reality is that people were distressed that a company selling a value-added farm product would support an organization that works to litigate, regulate and insult those who produce our food. The reality is that we don’t have a slick letter-writing, e-mail generating, spin doctoring machine like the HSUS media factory.
Yet, we can stand up for human values of integrity and truth. I’m proud of the farmers, hunters and pet owners leading this grassroots effort. The outcry against YellowTail involves people who wanted others to know the truth behind “not-for-profits” like HSUS. While I realize you may not relish that perspective, I hope you can appreciate the power of the movement, respect the individual voices involved and admire the way people responded through social media. That is, after all, what you spend the golden coffers of HSUS doing. In this case, it was done without a puppeteer pulling strings or spending any dollars.
Thanks for giving us a chance to show American citizens can make an impact through exercising our voices, finding others who share our interest in the truth and demonstrating what a community can do when it is genuinely grassroots. If it would help you feel better, I’ll be glad to buy you a dinner of pork, steak, or chicken – but without the YellowTail.
On behalf of farmers, ranchers, sportsmen and pet owners