By: Staff  Date: 01/15/2012 Category: | Farm and Ranch Almanac |

Teresa Platt is the executive director of Fur Commission USA which represents U.S. ­based fur farming families. She serves on the board of the Portland-Oregon based National Animal Interest Alliance and as secretary of Alliance for America, groups working to restore people and common sense to the environmental equation.

Fur Farmers Think Not; Minimal Effort, Minimal Results

For several months, a handful of animal rights' signature gatherers, ironically armed with press packages swathed in petro-chemical fur, worked to qualify an initiative for the Beverly Hills city ballot. "Beverly Hills Consumers for Informed Choices," a new group led by a Luke Montgomery, developed the "Consumer's Right to Informed Choices Act of 1999" to label fur coats sold in Beverly Hills. The draft of the credit card-sized label lists virtually every method by which animals can be killed, and makes no distinction between humane and inhumane, legal or illegal methods.

Although Montgomery's group, under the name "Campaign Humane," rented a Beverly Hills office, complete with two parking spaces, they seldom showed up for work, did minor direct mail and were mildly present at local gathering spots around town. Beverly Hills furriers countered each appearance with factual information while local business groups and the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce took stands against the initiative. By the end-of-October deadline, Montgomery's efforts resulted in a minimal number of signatures, from about 300 registered voters, delivered to the Beverly Hills City Clerk's Office.

Then surprise! In mid-November, Montgomery's group delivered over 5,000 signatures, collected who knows where, for verification. Fur farmers are highly skeptical that the petition will qualify for the ballot since collecting thousands of signatures takes an infusion of energy that was certainly not generated by Montgomery and his group in Beverly Hills. Since it will take 30 days for the County Registrar of Voters' office to verify the signatures, it appears that "Consumer's Right to Informed Choices" can now use the value of unverified signatures for the end-of-November "Fur Free Friday" publicity stunts and fund-raising efforts planned for the day after "Turkey-Free Thursday" and before "Sushi-Free Saturday".

Who's Who?

Luke Montgomery, the organizer of this "consumer choice" action, is an animal rights activist and a one-time DC mayoral candidate who neglected the necessary paperwork and abandoned the campaign before the election. Montgomery, who legally changed his name to Luke Sissyfag, achieved notoriety for heckling President Clinton during a Georgetown University speech on World AIDS Day, accusing the President of not doing enough to support AIDS research. While working as a program staffer for Last Chance for Animals, Montgomery/Sissyfag hypocritically promoted the philosophy of animal rights in a world which requires animal research to find a cure for AIDS.

According to their website, Last Chance for Animals (LCA) "does not accept a difference in species as justification for wanton exploitation or oppression for any purpose. LCA opposes the use of animals for food, entertainment, clothing, and scientific curiosity. In addition, LCA recognizes the use of non-human animals in experimentation designed to cure human disease as both immoral and of questionable scientific validity." Earlier this year, LCA launched a joint website with Coalition to Abolish the Fur Trade (CAFT) and it is rumored that Montgomery/Sissyfag is a CAFT employee.

Who's Next?

The proposed draft of the initiative does not yet focus on the production of other products sold in Beverly Hills, but most people immediately wondered, "Who's next?" Would each shop in Beverly Hills eventually be forced to attach labels to leather, steak, silk, sushi, cotton, vegetables and medicines? And how much would the shops have to pay to how many different animal rights groups for these labeling programs?

Currently, the Federal Trade Commission works with industry to satisfy consumer demands for any truthful label. However, the label in question is designed by animal rights extremists, who oppose the use of animals for any human benefit. Predictably, those who produce fur object to those opposed to animal ownership and use having control over labeling of our products for our consumers.

While supporting conservation and animal welfare, most people reject "animal rights," the philosophy that opposes the direct use of animals for food and clothing (meat/fish and leather/fur, etc.) while supporting the indirect use of animals and their habitat for the production of food and clothing (grains/vegetables and petro-chemical synthetics/cotton, etc.). Urbanization and agriculture are the leading causes of habitat loss and a variety of animals are killed during agricultural harvests.

Should we tally up all the birds, rabbits, rodents, snakes, all the animals harmed by agricultural combines, then label salads and tofu "bunny unsafe" as part of some consumer choice concept? Should T-shirts be labeled, "This cotton was produced with methods known to injure and kill animals as well as take their habitat"? Should medicine come with a sticker stating, "Brought to you by animal research"? Should condos carry a sign, "Warning! Warning! Habitat loss and animal deaths"? Should sushi have a tag, "This fish was suffocated"?


From "dolphin safe" to "sustainable" to "organically grown," attempts at eco-labeling have been fraught with controversy and complicated discussions. "Dolphin-safe" tuna required five years of work by the world's largest conservation groups to redefine the label to one that actually worked for dolphins, a host of marine creatures and the San Diego-based tuna fleet. Estimated price tag for the World Wildlife Fund to monitor its proposed Marine and Forestry Stewardship Councils' "sustainability" labeling program: 1 to 4 percent of gross. That's in addition to the taxes we already pay for government to do the job.

There is no "one size fits all" method for raising and killing animals, just as there is no "one size fits all" method for producing grains, timber, minerals or any of the other products consumed by urbanites living in cities like Beverly Hills. Each animal species and environmental situation is unique and the methods chosen are continuously evaluated for what is best for the environment and the animals.

Our impact on animals and the environment is a worthy subject for scientific study and reasoned debate, with rational controls developed by veterinarians, biologists, industry and government. Too many groups attempt to reduce the discussion to trendy credit card-sized labels.
If asked to sign a petition for the "Consumer's Right to Informed Choices Act of 1999," Beverly Hills consumers should simply say, "I'm already an informed consumer and these leather boots were made for walking." Then walk on down Rodeo Drive and into the nearest restaurant for sashimi or a steak sandwich. Hold the label.

Are the signatures collected in Beverly Hills valid? The odds are against it but animal rights extremists will rally around and embrace them for publicity value until the signatures are tossed out as invalid.


Fur Commission USA
826 Orange Avenue, #506
Coronado, CA 92118 USA
619) 575-0139, (619) 575-5578/fax

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