With few facts and thin science, ag critics can turn a whisper campaign into a shrill public forum. Only when we engage in the sport will we change the scoreboard.

Count the Animal Agriculture Alliance as one group that has learned this strategy. The alliance has gone multiple rounds with animal rights groups such as the Humane Society of the United States, with varied levels of success over the years.

Three years ago, the alliance pushed Bank of America to disclose why it was supporting HSUS through a credit card sponsorship program.

This wasn’t just a benign initiative to put an HSUS logo on a card. The program actually generated a percentage of funds back to HSUS for every high-dollar amount customers spent.

Bank of America never responded to those initial inquiries by the Animal Ag Alliance to clarify the program. But this year, the alliance posted its letters to the bank on Facebook and Twitter.


That sparked action from ag producers, who hammered the bank with the same questions.

Kay Johnson Smith, in her Cattle Q&A with Progressive Cattleman this month, said it was within a couple of hours of posting those letters that Bank of America found time to respond to the alliance.

In the end, Bank of America said financial support for HSUS didn’t equate to philosophical support. Ag is a key priority to Bank of America, the official claimed.

But when the bank said it was keeping the program, the alliance decided to end its 25-year relationship with Bank of America.

The entire story is in our Q&A interview with Kay Johnson Smith (click here to read).

While it’s tempting to shrug off the whole episode as a minor business disagreement, the truth is that it reveals far more potential than we realize.

Defending today’s ag producers against its critics may be honorable, but it’s just that – a defense. What the industry needs to mount is its own offense.

To reverse the tables, we should use social media and help producers raise their voices and, as the alliance did, take the fight to the opponents’ turf.

Ag producers spend an enormous sum on health products, machinery, insurance, banking services and feed, just to name a few services.

With such buying power, the beef industry should know where its dollars go – and start eroding support for beef producers’ harshest critics. Otherwise, we may be spending money on those committed to ending your life’s investment.  end mark


David Cooper
Progressive Cattleman magazine