Odd Bedfellows: Paul Harvey and the Animal Agriculture Alliance | Civil Eats

Odd Bedfellows: Paul Harvey and the Animal Agriculture Alliance

The Animal Agriculture Alliance—a group that defends virtually every factory farming practice out there—issued a press release this past week praising Dodge for its Super Bowl commercial featuring Paul Harvey’s “God Made a Farmer” speech.

The AAA waxed poetic, calling Harvey’s speech the “crowning glory” of the commercial and extolled the late broadcaster as “legendary.”

One wonders if the Alliance recalls that Paul Harvey was a great advocate; an advocate for ending some of the most abusive practices in animal agriculture—practices the Alliance rigorously defends.

In fact, the Alliance defends practices that are so cruel they’re illegal in many states—partly because of Harvey.

(Oddly, the AAA and the Humane Society of the U.S.—two groups often at great odds—may actually be able to agree to agree on one point: the imagery of the American farmer in the ad was compelling. But the agreement ends there. While The HSUS is working hard every day to end the worst abuses of farm animals, and working with many farmers who are joining with us in calling for an end to confining farm animals in industrialized settings, the AAA works to keep those practices firmly in use.)

Back to the Alliance’s newfound fondness for Paul Harvey: In 2006, Harvey campaigned in favor of Arizona’s Proposition 204, a ballot campaign actively opposed by the Alliance. It prohibited confining pigs and veal calves in tiny crates—cages which immobilize animals for essentially their entire lives. Numerous experts like renowned animal scientist Temple Grandin urge an end to these inhumane practices. And month before the election, Harvey joined those experts, taking to the airwaves to urge Arizonans to support the ban.

“Pigs and calves in confinement must have enough space in their pens to extend their limbs, and to turn around, and to lie down. So on Proposition 204, Arizonans… vote YES,” Harvey pleaded during his October 3rd broadcast on ABC Radio.

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When Arizonans overwhelmingly passed the measure (62 percent to 38 percent), the Alliance derided campaign proponents like Harvey, complaining that its organization was “disappointed that Arizona’s voters were misled” by the Prop 204 advocates.

And after having more than a month to reflect on Harvey’s Arizona victory, the Alliance pondered the next moves of advocates for better treatment of farm animals, asked rhetorically, “Why would they slow down? They are succeeding.”

Indeed, Harvey and the animal protection movement didn’t slow down. Harvey lived to see many more states follow Arizona’s lead. And since his death, even more states have banned various inhumane factory farming practices, always despite the opposition of the Alliance.

After butting heads with them over the extreme confinement of farm animals, how would Harvey feel about this organization now extolling him in memoriam? It’s hard to tell, though I think we can rest assured that he’d be pleased to see the progress against standard, but cruel, animal confinement systems, even if his new admirers are still fighting to keep them as the status quo.

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Paul Shapiro is the senior director of The Humane Society of the United States’ factory farming campaign. Follow him at http://twitter.com/pshapiro. Read more >

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  1. Carol Misseldine
    Fantastic article, Paul! Thanks for documenting Paul Harvey's support for improving conditions for farm animals, and for illuminating the AAA's shameless and self serving hypocrisy.
  2. Nellie
    I love animals, this treatment of them makes me SICK!!!
  3. Dave bernazai
    Great commentary, Paul! I think that farmer ad was ridiculous, with its imagery that showed NONE of what the modern industrial animal industry is like, but perpetuated the myth of "Old Macdonald" in his overalls and small farm way of life that simply doesn't exist any more. It was a load of tripe and of course Big Ag loved it: it was propaganda worthy of Joseph Goebbels, and if you younger people don't know who he was, I suggest you google him.

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