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Published September 15, 2011, 01:54 PM

Several Nebraska ag groups join up to promote business

LINCOLN, Neb. — Several of Nebraska's most prominent agriculture groups have formed a new coalition to promote their business and fight any effort by the Humane Society of the United States to impose new limits on the industry. The groups behind We Support Agriculture include the Nebraska Cattlemen, Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation and pork, poultry and dairy groups.

aLINCOLN, Neb. — Several of Nebraska's most prominent agriculture groups have formed a new coalition to promote their business and fight any effort by the Humane Society of the United States to impose new limits on the industry.

The groups behind We Support Agriculture include the Nebraska Cattlemen, Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation and pork, poultry and dairy groups.

Pete McClymont with the Nebraska Cattlemen says that the groups want to be ready to fight any effort by the Humane Society to use a petition drive to impose limits on agricultural businesses in Nebraska.

“We can't control what they do, but we can control what we do,” McClymont said Tuesday during a tour announcing the formation of the coalition.

Part of what has the livestock groups nervous is that the animal rights organization has hired a full-time state director in Nebraska.

But not all of Nebraska's agricultural groups are getting behind the We Support Agriculture coalition. John Hansen of the Nebraska Farmers Union said his members are not on board.

“I think their approach is to heavily arm after having no discussion or negotiation,” Hansen said.

The livestock groups behind the new coalition are concerned that the Humane Society might try to persuade Nebraska voters to restrict the use of common agricultural practices such as gestation crates for pregnant hogs or battery cages for laying hens.

The Humane Society has used petition drives or the threat of them to impose such limits in several states. But national and state Humane Society officials say they have no plans for a ballot initiative in 2012.

“Essentially, these folks have let their paranoia run away with them,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States. “I can only surmise that this is a fundraising scheme on their part, given that we've made an emphatic and unmistakable declaration that we're not conducting a ballot measure.”

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