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Published October 08, 2012, 10:37 AM

Stockmen's convention addresses Measure 5

FARGO, N.D. — The 83rd North Dakota Stockmen’s convention in Fargo had a strong focus on political action, especially to oppose Measure 5, an initiated measure that would put felony penalties into state law for certain heinous animal cruelty offenses.

By: Mikkel Pates, Agweek

FARGO, N.D. — The 83rd North Dakota Stockmen's convention in Fargo had a strong focus on political action, especially to oppose Measure 5, an initiated measure that would put felony penalties into state law for certain heinous animal cruelty offenses.

The Stockmen’s organization instead is putting its muscle behind state legislative action that would offer a legislated plan for strengthening animal rights. An expert panel addressed the topic in the closing sessions on Sept. 29, with some speakers warning of a “no compromise” strategy against any measures backed by the Humane Society of the United States.

Among the messages:

• Nukhet Hendricks, president of the Humane Society of Fargo-Moorhead for six years has lived in Fargo 22 years. She said the organization “is not and never will be a part of the HSUS.”

She said the measure doesn’t address abandonment and other issues that her shelter sees every day and is too limited in scope for certain companion animals. She says the initiative is “not for protection, but is about punishment” against “13 heinous crimes.”

Hendricks’ group is on the website of the livestock-backed North Dakota Animal Stewards effort. The group has decided not to be politically “actively involved against Measure 5 in order to protect their 501C3 status” as a nonprofit organization. At the same time, she urged the livestock producers to vote against it.

Even though the measure is spearheaded by local animal advocates, Hendricks said the initiative amounts to “people coming from the outside and telling us how to live.” She said Minot and Grand Forks humane societies in North Dakota have chosen to endorse the ballot initiative, while Bismarck and Fargo are among those in the state who haven’t.

Many small shelters are staying out of it. Key zoos are “definitely not” for the initiated measure, said Stockmen’s president Jason Schmidt, but are supporting the North Dakota Animal Stewards coalition legislative effort.

• Mindy Patterson is president and co-founder of the Cavalry Group. She grew up in California and had a broadcast journalism career before moving to the St. Louis area with her family. A horse enthusiast, she became active against a HSUS-backed effort called the “Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act in 2010.”

As campaign manager for Missouri Alliance for Truth, an unsuccessful opposition group to the puppy mill act, Patterson later started the Cavalry Group as a support for others opposed to such measures in various states. Since the Missouri act went into effect, the state has lost half of its licensed dog breeders. The measure passed with 51.6 percent of the vote even though it won almost every nonmetropolitan county.

Patterson said HSUS helped finance the $4.04 per vote effort in the Missouri election, compared with 54 cents per vote by the opponents. After the law passed in the statewide vote, the state legislature swiftly removed unconstitutional provisions, including a limit of 50 dogs per breeding business.

She said the ultimate goal of HSUS is to raise the cost of meat, milk and eggs, cutting production and “weakening the economic structure of animal agribusiness.”

• Jude Capper is a British-born ruminant nutritionist doctorate-level researcher who now lives in Bozeman, Mont. She bills herself as a researcher and consultant/expert on sustainability and carbon footprints of various species. Animal agriculture production that uses pasture is defendable because it turns “forages and byproducts into delicious food,” she said.

Capper, who specializes in sustainability analysis, addressed claims by beef critics, including the untruth that it takes 2,463 gallons of water to produce a pound of beef. That’s about three times the actual number. She said those who talk about the excessive carbon dioxide emissions of cattle often forget to calculate how it would affect the planet if all the humans who eat beef protein would switch to beans and other sources for their needs. “Humans make methane, as well,” she said.

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