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BrownfieldAgNews reports:

One of the leaders of a new coalition of farmers, ranchers and hunters says they are "willing to play more aggressively" against radical animal rights groups, including the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).

Erik Helland of Johnston, Iowa is a member of the board of Protect the Harvest, a group that grew out of the Proposition B "puppy mill" campaign in Missouri in 2010. Helland says agriculture needs to go on the offensive against the radical animal rights fringe.

"I think in the past a lot of groups have been willing to play defense once an initiative has been brought to the legislature-and I think they've done a great job," Helland says. "Where our concern is, in the long run, we've got to go on the offense. We've got to start staking out ag turf and making HSUS justify their attack on rural America."

Helland says HSUS is using a multi-faceted, incremental approach to slowly put livestock and egg producers out of business. Those tactics, Helland says, include pressuring restaurants and grocery chains to adopt tougher production standards-and pushing for more restrictive animal care laws at the state and federal levels.

Helland says the so-called "egg bill" in Congress is just the latest example.

"They're going to come at this, and as soon as they get that, they're going to come from a different angle-and then they'll come from another angle-and they're never going to stop," he says. "They've clearly stated that their goals are to come after animal agriculture-and we can't sit idly beside and let that happen."

Helland says the founder and owner of Lucas Oil, Forrest Lucas, has been one of the driving forces behind formation of the Protect the Harvest coalition. Lucas also owns a cattle ranch in Missouri.

Helland is an Iowa state legislator and serves as majority whip in the Iowa House of Representatives.

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