I always felt comfortable at the University of Missouri until last semester when the Humane Society of the United States sent petitioners to Lowry Mall, a major gathering spot for students.
I was heading to class through Lowry Mall when a petitioner asked me if I liked dogs and cats. "Yes," I replied. He then proceeded to ask me if I liked the poor animals getting abused and, if not, I should sign the sheet to help stop it.
I declined, explaining if I signed the petition it means I support an organization whose ultimate goal is to abolish animal agriculture. The man did not understand and began to raise his voice and make a scene. I stayed calm and chose to walk away from the situation. I felt uncomfortable on my own campus.
I'm an ag girl. I grew up on a cow/calf operation in small town USA and came to the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources to pursue an agricultural journalism degree.
I advocate for agriculture, believe in its practices and know the referendum disguised to help pets is the first step for the Humane Society of the United States to get into Missouri with the ultimate goal of eliminating livestock production.
The discomfort I felt stayed with me when I passed through Lowry Mall to and from classes. From time-to-time I saw the petitioner get the same response I gave him, but more often others did not question what they were signing.
According to the Columbia Missourian, the man was getting paid 75 cents a signature. It said the Humane Society of the United States hired paid signature gatherers from outside the state to work with more than 2,000 volunteers.
Farmers and ranchers care about the well-being of their animals. Laws and regulations are already in practice to assure the care animals receive. As a beef producer, I know the importance of taking care of animals.
While the information the Humane Society of the United States used to encourage people to sign the petition was inaccurate, voters will determine the fate of the initiative in the November general election.
Check with your state senators and representatives about the current laws in Missouri already protecting livestock. Urge them to fully fund the Department of Agriculture's efforts to enforce the laws already established.
Aimee Gutshall is an MU student and a summer intern for the Missouri Farm Bureau.