Agribiz group VP becomes VP for American Humane Association
WASHINGTON D.C.––What does it signify that American Humane Association chief marketing officer and vice president of communications Jack Hubbard came to that position in May 2016 after nine years as vice president of the aggressively anti-animal and habitat advocacy public relations firm Richard Berman & Company, 2007-2016?
Hiring might be hard to explain
American Humane Association president Robin Ganzert did not respond to a June 28, 2016 inquiry to that effect from ANIMALS 24-7, perhaps because hiring Hubbard might be very difficult to explain.
Richard Berman & Company is perhaps best known for representing the anti-regulatory Center for Consumer Freedom, and other projects including HumaneWatch.org, which chiefly attacks the Humane Society of the United States, and the Humane Society for Shelter Pets, an entity dissolved in September 2013 after a two-year existence during which it appeared to do little––if anything––except attack HSUS.
“We represent a lot of agriculture interests”
The New York Times and the Washington D.C. advocacy organization Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in 2014 obtained and released excerpts of an audio recording of a June 25, 2014 presentation by Berman and Hubbard to the Western Energy Alliance’s annual meeting in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
“We represent a lot of agriculture interests who are being attacked by the Humane Society of the United States,” said Berman, according to the tape transcript. “The Humane Society of the United States is not connected to your local pet shelter. They raise money with these weepy ads on television showing dogs and cats in crates and cages and they get a lot of money. They get their $19 a month. But, then they use the money to attack farms, actually farmers, who raise all sorts of animals for food. Because the Humane Society of the United States, if you look at them, and you don’t have to look at them very closely to see this, it’s basically a vegan organization. They don’t want people killing animals for food.”
Berman went on to describe his company’s tactic of “repositioning them in the public’s mind by saying, ‘Hey, give to your local shelter, but don’t give to the Humane Society of the United States because they are not who they say they are.”
Hubbard then explained, according to the transcript, that some companies involved in fossil fuel production had funded Berman & Co. to attack habitat protection organizations including the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
HSUS a vegan organization?
The view that the Humane Society of the U.S. is “basically a vegan organization” is not widely shared among actual vegan organizations and others that campaign on behalf of farmed animals. (See How HSUS sponsorship of a meatfest in Denver overshadowed announcement of reforms by the world’s largest food producer.)
But Wayne Pacelle, HSUS president since 2004, has been vegan for 30 years, since midway through his undergraduate years at Yale University, and several other vegans are in senior positions at HSUS.
Who are the “lot of agriculture interests”?
The “lot of agriculture interests who are being attacked by HSUS,” mentioned by Berman, may include Wendy’s restaurants, the Outback steakhouse chain, Cargill, Coca Cola, the Tyson chicken empire, Pilgrim’s Pride, and RTM Inc., owner of Arby’s restaurants, all of which have at some point reportedly donated to the Center for Consumer Freedom.
But, as a nonprofit organization, the Center for Consumer Freedom is not required to disclose the identities of donors. CCF might currently represent any of the above, all of them, or none of them. The original CCF funders were reportedly opponents of laws that hold hotel and restaurant owners liable if they knowingly or negligently allow guests to drive drunk, and require business that serve food to prohibit smoking.
At a glance, Jack Hubbard and the American Humane Association would appear to be an odd fit––and not just because the AHA, with a 2015 budget of about $13.5 million, spent about $1.4 million on Humane Heartland, a project self-described on the AHA filing of IRS Form 990 as “the oldest, largest, and fastest-growing auditing and certification program in the country advocating for farm animals.”
The oldest U.S. national humane society, founded in 1877, with both animal and child protection divisions since 1878, the American Humane Association resolutely fought against alcoholism on behalf of both animals and children, believing that alcohol consumption was a major contributor to cruelty and neglect.
AHA fought for Prohibition
Thus the American Humane Association enthusiastically endorsed the 1919 passage of the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which introduced national prohibition of “intoxicating liquors,” meaning alcoholic beverages.
The AHA also fought for the follow-up passage of the 1920 Volstead Act, which clarified the definitions in the 18th Amendment and funded enforcing it.
The American Humane Association then opposed the 1933 Cullen-Harrison Act and Blaine Act, which legalized alcoholic beer and wine, and the 21st Amendment, passed later in 1933, which repealed the 18th Amendment, ending the Prohibition era.
HomeMade Gin Kit
As recently as 1948 many members of the AHA, which then had a voting membership, were divided over whether to support the Prohibition Party candidate for the U.S. presidency, Los Angeles clergyman and former minor league ballplayer Claude A. Watson, 62, who had received 75,000 votes running on the Prohibition ticket in 1944, or the American Vegetarian Party candidate, John Maxwell, M.D., whose support came from a coalition of vegetarians, prohibitionists, anti-vivisectionists, and opponents of smoking tobacco.
Hubbard, apart from his work for the Center for Consumer Freedom, in October 2012 cofounded a company called HomeMade Gin Kit, the very existence of which would have been the antithesis of the American Humane Association governing philosophy for approximately half the time the organization has existed.
AHA warned against factory egg farms in 1935
But the American Humane Association has been wandering away from the longtime AHA governing principles for longer than Jack Hubbard––and perhaps Richard Berman––have been alive.
The back cover of the January 1935 edition of the National Humane Review, a magazine published by the American Humane Association from 1913 to 1978, editorially warned against factory egg farms, then just beginning to gain significant market share. The National Humane Review identified forced high-volume egg production as detrimental to hens; noted high mortality among laying hens in early factory-style farms; mentioned “the ill effects of electric lights to make a longer working day in the chicken coop”; denounced the view that “the hen is a machine in which raw material is regularly converted into finished products”; and lamented the outcome that “Overtrained, overfed hens do their level best to deliver the goods, and then collapse.”
The AHA has claimed since 2014 that “90 percent of cage-free eggs sold in the U.S. have been certified by the American Humane Association,” but the AHA certification standards have long occasioned skepticism from other animal advocacy organizations.
Adele Douglass, the founding director of the American Humane Association farmed animal product certification program, left it in 2003 to form Humane Farm Animal Care, whose “Certified Humane Raised & Handled” standards have won the endorsements of both the Humane Society of the U.S. and the American SPCA.
United Egg Producers
By March 2008 the American Humane Association certification program began working in open collaboration with the egg industry organization United Egg Producers.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission had ruled in 2006, in response to complaints brought by Compassion Over Killing, that UEP producers were to stop using an allegedly misleading “Animal Care Certified” logo.
The AHA and United Egg Producers agreed, according to a jointly issued press release, that “an egg farmer who passes the American Humane Certified audit, pays the fees and is a member in good standing with the UEP Certified Program and meets the UEP guidelines on 100% of their egg production, can then use the UEP Certified logo and market those eggs as UEP Certified in addition to marketing them as American Humane Certified, using the American Humane Certified logo.”
Instead of the United Egg Producers program being discredited, the UEP and American Humane Certified logos began appearing side by side.
California Proposition Two
In November 2008, California voters approved Proposition Two, an initiative requiring that by 2015 whole eggs sold within the state were to come from hens who could stand up, lie down, turn around, and fully extend their limbs.
“In other words: cage-free,” blogged Humane Society of the U.S. factory farming campaign senior director Paul Shapiro.
But the AHA in June 2010 undercut the intent of Proposition Two, as Shapiro and voters appeared to understand it, by authorizing the egg producer J.S. West, of Modesto, California, to use the American Humane Certified logo, after West replaced conventional battery caging with enriched cages like those required by the European Union since 2012.
The AHA then forestalled a Humane Society of the U.S.-backed campaign to pass initiatives similar to the California legislation in Oregon and Washington by pushing through bills requiring that any new hen caging must meet the AHA standards, not the somewhat higher standards of Humane Farm Animal Care.
HSUS & UEP
Out-maneuvered, the Humane Society of the U.S. then cut a deal with United Egg Producers whereby HSUS agreed to suspend pursuing state legislation to mandate cage-free egg production, to win UEP support for a federal standard which would have phased in colony caging over 18 years.
The Humane Society of the U.S. pursued that fruitless effort from June 2011 until February 2014, when the agreement with United Egg Producers was withdrawn by mutual consent.
Named chief executive of the American Humane Association in August 2010, former Pew Charitable Trusts deputy director of philanthropic services Robin Ganzert debuted with a statement distancing the AHA from “extreme ideas purported by those who argue that people have no right to raise animals for food.”
Ganzert in her next sentence mentioned “inhumane farming practices” in the egg industry. The AHA then, a week later, endorsed what it termed “a new method of controlled-atmosphere stunning for poultry called Low Atmospheric Pressure System,” called LAPS for short.
While hardly anyone would defend the conventional poultry slaughtering practice of hanging birds upside down, dunking them headfirst into an electrified “stunning bath” to make them evacuate their bowels, and then decapitating them as “humane,” and while the LAPS approach probably is less inhumane, the LAPS method of “controlled atmosphere” stunning is not the approach usually meant by the term, and is certainly not the “controlled atmosphere” approach advocated by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals since 2004.
“Controlled atmosphere” poultry killing usually refers to gassing the birds with nitrogen, argon, or carbon dioxide.
Unacceptable for humane euthanasia
The LAPS method is decompression, deemed unacceptable for humane euthanasia, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association Guidelines on Euthanasia.
Introduced by the American Humane Association to kill homeless dogs and cats in 1950, decompression rapidly gained favor as shelter killing soared from circa two million dogs and cats per year to circa 23 million by 1970, then fell abruptly out of use after becoming recognized as painfully inhumane to the animals.
Decompression has not been used in the U.S. to kill shelter dogs and cats since 1985, is banned for use on dogs and cats in 24 states, and is banned for use in killing any animals in 12 states.
Line of defense
As American Humane Association chief marketing officer and vice president of communications, Jack Hubbard can be expected to do whatever he can to advance the AHA brand.
But the AHA brand may by now be little more than a line of defense for agribusiness against pressure to get out of animal agriculture altogether, in favor of producing and promoting a plant-based diet.