The Animal Agriculture Alliance (Alliance), a 501(c) (3) non-profit focused on educating consumers about animal agriculture, announced July 30 that it was ending its 25-year-long relationship with Bank of America. The reason for the split was Bank of America’s continued public support of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).
Last month, Alliance reached out to Bank of America with concerns about its public support of HSUS as represented in some of its MyExpressions banking options. The bank indicated it would not discontinue its HSUS affinity card program, however.
The MyExpessions banking program offers customers the option to select a number of charitable organizations or universities to have represented on their debit or credit cards and/or checks. HSUS is among six “Nature and Wildlife Charitable Causes” offered.
There is a $60 charge for these specialty products. Bank of America said they do not consider the charge a donation to the organizations, but rather a fee paid to the groups for bringing new clients to the bank.
Alliance made a point of telling Bank of America’s president and CEO, Brian Moynihan, and the bank’s Agribusiness executive about HSUS’ behavior.
“HSUS is a radical animal rights organization that is not affiliated with local animal shelters and instead uses its more than $100 million budget to threaten America’s hardworking farmers and ranchers,” read a letter sent by Alliance CEO Kay Johnson Smith to Moynihan.
“While many Americans mistakenly believe HSUS is the national organization affiliated with local animal shelters, very little of its funding is used for handson animal care. Instead, HSUS uses its resources to attack farmers and ranchers with legislation, litigation and public relations smear campaigns.”
As reported in an Alliance press release, Bank of America’s Agribusiness executive emphasized in a phone conversation with Smith that the affinity card program with HSUS was not new, despite claims to the contrary, and that HSUS received no preferential treatment. The representative recognized the fact HSUS spends less than 1 percent on direct animal care—a detail publicly communicated by watchdog group HumaneWatch—but discounted it. He said people believe HSUS helps animals and they enjoy having a card with cats and dogs on it.
Ironically, the bank’s representative specifically pointed out that the most critical issue right now for agriculture is the constant pressure on people in the food business. He emphasized his long time connections with agriculture and his sincere commitment to supporting agriculture through numerous sponsorships, research and service.
After this conversation and careful consideration, Alliance decided to terminate its relationship with Bank of America. Alliance stated it cannot continue a business relationship with organizations contributing financially to extreme animal rights organizations which seek to eliminate the animal agriculture industry.
Despite the decisions of Bank of America, Alliance reiterated its dedication to speaking up for America’s farmers and ranchers.
Supporters of Alliance and the mission it works towards are calling for another “Yellow Tail initiative,” referencing the grass-roots efforts of ranchers two years ago which convinced the company to retract its earlier decision to donate $100,000 to HSUS. — Kerry Halladay, WLJ Editor
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