A new political action group has formed in Nebraska to do battle against any ballot initiative attempting to regulate agriculture.
The group has a simple name: We Support Agriculture. Organizers say that is its mission; to support agriculture against any ballot initiative pushed by an animal rights group.
President Pete McClymont, who serves as Vice President for Legislative Affairs with Nebraska Cattlemen, told reporters during a news conference outside the Capitol in Lincoln that the group was formed by Nebraska Cattlemen, the Nebraska Farm Bureau, the Nebraska Pork Producers Association, Nebraska Poultry Industries and the Nebraska State Dairy Association. Each group kicked in $5,000 to get We Support Agriculture off the ground.
McClymont said the group formed amid worries that PETA, the Humane Society of the United States or similar groups might launch a ballot campaign in Nebraska to regulate livestock production. He acknowledged it’s a preemptive strike.
“The states where they’ve had success, people sat back and waited. We haven’t done that,” McClymont said. “And we will be here and try to be ahead of this issue and make people aware.”
HSUS President Wayne Pacelle told Nebraska Radio Network in an interview in August that the group has no plans to push a ballot initiative in Nebraska next year.
“I don’t know how many times I can say it. We’re not doing a ballot initiative in Nebraska in 2012,” Pacelle told Nebraska Radio Network. “We never said that we were.”
When asked if the group plans to talk with HSUS, McClymont echoed comments made by agricultural groups earlier, that the statements made by HSUS belie its intent. He said We Support Agriculture would take the same stance taken by Governor Heineman, who has rejected an invitation from Pacelle to meet. Heineman stated in an interview with Nebraska Radio Network that he doesn’t trust Pacelle.
Another member of We Support Agriculture, Jay Rempe with the Nebraska Farm Bureau, said the group will count on the experience of Nebraskans to turn back any attempts to change farm practices through the ballot box.
“I think there’s enough connection still in Nebraska with people back on the farm. Even with the folks in Omaha and Lincoln, they have a connection with folks on the farm. They know people and how they care for their animals,” “And I think we keep driving home that message that farmers are caring individuals. Their values haven’t changed. They still care for their animals. And that’s how we’ll overcome those kinds of radical ideas that are out there.”
We Support Agriculture has registered with the Secretary of State’s office and the IRS as a political action group that can raise money and launch a political campaign.