Ranchers respond to HSUS and Forever 21 partnership
December 30, 2010
It’s 98 and counting. That’s how many posts have been made by farmers and ranchers on the discussion boards of the Forever 21 Facebook page. Forever 21 is a clothing store that recently partnered up with the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS). Dustin Homan, an agricultural leadership student at The Ohio State University, discovered a sign outside one of the stores in New York that read, “With your purchase of this T-shirt, Forever 21 will make a $1.00 donation to HSUS. We and all our furry friends thank you!”
A growing trend in the agriculture community is advocating to consumers, educating them about where their food comes from and introducing them to the families that dedicate their lives to feeding the world. That’s exactly what producers were doing when responding to the recent partnership with Forever 21 and HSUS.
Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman once said, “HSUS is an organization you cannot trust and I do not trust.”
Unfortunately, many are duped into donating to this company because they believe they are funding local animal shelters. In truth, less than one-half of 1 percent of the HSUS $100-million annual budget is used to fund animal shelters. Although donations from Forever 21 to HSUS continue, producers are working hard to educate shoppers and consumers about this anti-animal agriculture organization. They did so by sending comments to Forever 21’s Facebook page, writing e-mails to their Web site or calling their customer service number.
“I’m not only disappointed as a Forever 21 fan, but as an animal lover,” wrote Whitney Wallace to Forever 21. “It is sad to me that of the $1 donation Forever 21 is making with these shirts, only half a penny of that would go to the animals who need our help. The rest of the dollar goes to lobbyist salaries, benefits and doesn’t help animals. I love Forever 21, but until they stop donating to a fraudulent organization, my cowgirl boot wearing friends and I will be shopping elsewhere for our trendy and very accessorized closets.”
Homan, who took the photograph, wrote, “While, as a male, Forever 21 is not my top clothing store, my girlfriend loves this place and I can’t blame her. Forever 21 offers great quality at a reasonable price. However, we, and our families, will not purchase from Forever 21 until you disband your ties with the HSUS. HSUS is not connected to local humane shelters, and instead will use your donation to push through its legislative agenda like it has already done in states such as California. HSUS wants to destroy agriculture. Interestingly enough, I’m fairly certain many of your products are made from agricultural material such as wool and cotton. Kind of a Catch-22, no?”
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“Hi! I am a farm girl from Nebraska. I have loved your clothing and your store for a long time, possibly one of my favorite stores,” added in Regina Janousek. “But, I am not in love with your recent partnership with HSUS. HSUS is a lobbying company that has no relation to your local animal shelter. Just in the last year HSUS has donated $0 to animal shelters in my state of Nebraska. The majority is spent on lobbying and publicity, in my view they just a huge PR firm for animal rights radicals. Notice I said animal rights, as a farmer, I am all for animal welfare and humane treatment of animals. But I am not in favor of giving animals the same rights as humans. I strongly urge you to revoke your partnership with HSUS and instead partner with local shelters in the communities of which your stores are based, I feel the money would go to places where the funds are much more needed.”
Although not all of the nearly 100 comments on the Facebook page are pro-agriculture, the debate is a positive one as farmers and ranchers are reclaiming their legacy and promoting the industry they are so proud of. This is just one of the countless examples of agriculture advocacy happening across the country, and one thing is for certain: by responding in a professional, educational way, producers can be proactive instead of reactive when it comes to sharing the food production story.