Yellow Tail: Epic Fail

Feb 13, 2010 by

(In case anyone on Earth missed my Facebook rant on this subject)

Before I begin, I should recuse myself.  My husband is a 3rd generation farmer.  We support the IL Farm Bureau. 

I don’t side with all farmers on all issues (political party is a big one)…but when the story about Yellow Tail wine came to my attention, I don’t see how you could side with anyone but the farmers.  In case you missed it, here is a short summary of the situation, as unbiased as I can be…with my thoughts below.

Yellow Tail is currently the #1 selling wine in America.  They are based in Australia.  They decided to donate $100,000 to The Humane Society of the United States.  Lest a “good deed” go unpunished, rather than just donate the money and go about their business, they announced their donation.  What they (I’m guessing) did not realize (and neither did I) is that The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and local humane societies are not one and the same.  Local humane societies’ goals include finding homes/caring for stray kittens and puppies.  The main goal of HSUS, however, is the elimination of animal agriculture.  They are fighting against cattle farmers in particular.  Once this story hit the news, Yellow Tail tucked its tail and tried to recover, but the backlash has been enormous.  Local Farm Bureaus are accepting bottles of Yellow Tail wine to dump out, and some are even entering you into a drawing for prizes…should you turn in a bottle. 

My feelings on the matter range from total outrage that a company would support such an organization, to sadness that this will (once again) bring out all the farm-haters, to personal satisfaction that complete idiocy is not being rewarded.

My thoughts.
1. Why did a company in Australia feel the need to donate to a group, any group, in the US?  Surely there are charities, especially animal charities, that need donations in Australia.  It’s not as if Americans would’ve been outraged that a foreign wine company donates in their own region… not like we would if American companies donated on foreign soil.
1A. If you did need to donate in a foreign country, maybe for tax reasons, I think Haiti needs the money more than a stray cat.  I love animals, but not as much as I love people.

2. Did the person in the research department get fired over this?

3. I disagree with some of the practices of factory farms.  What many people don’t realize, however, is that 90% of farms participating in animal agriculture are family farms.  Many people don’t understand that local family farmers are being driven out of business because they don’t want to be factory farmers raising chickens for Purdue or Tyson, but they can’t compete if they don’t work for the big boys.  That’s not a choice!

4. If you have issues with animals being fed antibiotics, and I suspect many people do, keep this in mind: the horror stories you see and hear in the media about animals being fed antibiotics in their food daily are stories about FACTORY FARMS not family farms.  And it may interest you to know that in Denmark several years ago, they passed a law banning even low grade antibiotics for their animals.  The result?  The Danish are more antibiotic-resistant than ever, the animals are even more sick, and they had a huuuuuuuuuge salmonella outbreak recently. 
4A. A local hog farmer recently commented that he used to raise hogs outdoors, without antibiotics, and his death and cull rate (% of hogs too sick/small for slaughter or died before they could be slaughtered) was 7%, and antibiotics cost him $7/hog, to treat them when they were ill.  He built a state-of-the-art indoor hog facility and his death and cull rate is now 2% and the cost per hog is $2.05 for vaccines they are given early on (similar to an infant). 
4B. One argument the HSUS likes to make is, (again) against factory farms, that the cows are unhappy because they never get fresh air, never walk around outside, and are cramped in over-crowded feed lot facilities.  Frankly, I don’t care about cows’ feelings.  I don’t want animals to be hurt or tortured…but I’d rather an unhappy cow be slaughtered than a happy one!

Overall, I hope that the general public starts to understand that when you hurt farmers, you hurt America.  It is no more logical to think that all farmers abuse animals than it is to think all police officers abuse people or all teachers run off w/ their students. 

Look at where most farmers are located…not exactly the hub of media activity.  They often don’t get the chance to tell their side of things to the media.  All I ask is that you please research and/or ask questions of people who KNOW, not the media, before you form your opinions.

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  1. Anonymous

    Lauren. I am the anonymous one in California who was born, raised and farmed on the East side of Goofy Ridge and have commented on this blog. Is it possible the reason they donated to HSUS which isfor ilimination of animal agricxulture is to try for a bigger share of the meat industry? On another note as first hand experience of raising livestock, if conditions were as bad as some people say the animals would not grow or produce as they should, which would result in a loss or less profit. I don't think farmers are that dumb.
    I applaud you for speaking up. I always was a member and supporter of Farm Bureau, and the farmer. Most business people would not put up with the small return farmers get on their investment and long hard hours of work.
    I found the blog about I drove through Goofy Ridge and surivied and seen you comment, connecting you to this blog. What relation is Adam to Bob and Gene Shissler? I knew them personaly. They were very nice gentlemen. Thank you Robert Fleming

  2. Lauren

    Glad you're still reading, Robert! I think anything is possible w/ HSUS. Who knows? I feel a little bit bad for Yellow Tail in a way, because I'm sure they really thought they were doing a good deed. But when you donate that much money, you better be dang sure exactly where it's going!! I've donated to my college and there is a large area where you can write in exactly where you want your money to go. The college is (by law) required to make sure that money goes wherever you specify, even if you donate 200k and say it's for pencils. Adam is Gene's grandson and I guess that would make Bob his great uncle?

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