Rick Berman has been called the food industry's "weapon of mass destruction." Lately, the owner of the public relations firm Berman and Co. and executive director of the non-profit Center for Consumer Freedom has been known for his work with HumaneWatch, a non-profit intended to "make sense of what's going on inside that sprawling organization," according to HumaneWatch.org.
The "sprawling organization" the website is referring to is the Humane Society of the United States, which has led the campaign against the use of gestation stalls on hog farms. At last year's World Pork Expo at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, many discussed whether or not the use of gestation stalls would eventually be phased out.
One year later at the 2013 World Pork Expo, Berman says public perception can change and has. The key is informing the public where HSUS funds go. Berman says while HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle would rather spend money to help save farm animals from being killed, donors believe their money is going toward helping abused cats and dogs. HSUS's overall goal is increasing the cost of animal agriculture, Berman says.
Changing public perception
Informing the public is crucial. Berman cites an Opinion Research Corporation survey of 1,000 U.S. citizens, showing 75% thought well of HSUS on their first impression. After learning that 1% of HSUS's budget goes to local shelters, this dropped to 15%. Berman hopes to make this statistic common knowledge among the public, and by doing so pork producers can go on the offense.
BEFORE: An Opinion Research Corporation survey of 1,000 U.S. citizens' opinions of HSUS on first impression.