CP editorial: You may be surprised what you are supporting if you follow your money

News flash — your money could be what’s funding the non-profit organizations that are harming conventional production agriculture. Today we live in a pay-and-go society. We hand over our money for our Starbucks coffee and never think to ask where our dollar goes afterward, but chances are it is funding organizations such as the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).

Starbucks is a large company that sells millions of coffees a day, generating large profits. In 2013 they gave over $8.7 million of this revenue to the non-profit organizations they support. Recently they released information regarding their partnership with the HSUS. Information that could only be found if you knew what to look for. 

As an agriculturalist I work endlessly to overcome the negative views of agriculture the HSUS has promoted. Little did I realize that my morning Starbucks coffee was doing more harm than I could ever imagine. Every morning I “bought” the image they had sold, that of a company that supported farmers and their practices, when in reality, that image is far from the truth. 

Starbucks and HSUS have a partnership dating back several years, and hidden from the public eye until a recent decision regarding the purchase of animal products brought their collaboration into the public view.

An article published by former HSUS president and chief executive officer, Wayne Pacelle, foreshadowed Starbucks decisions to “support animal welfare.” In his article he said, “We’ve been working for years with this enormous company,” then went on to explain his involvement in Starbucks decision to only buy cage and antibiotic free products. This simple statement indicated the strong partnership the companies already had. As a frequent customer of Starbucks I wondered how much of my own money had gone to support HSUS.

As a company that claims to support farming communities, Starbucks has really made the opposite impact. Even their “farmer-support” page states they give their resources only to “ethical” farming, implying conventional farmers use unethical practices. By choosing to use marketing scare tactics in the hopes of making another dollar, Starbucks has hurt the conventional agriculture community. It has given the impression that small, grass fed, cage free, and non GMO products are the only “ethical” option.

In a statement made by Wayne Pacelle, “Starbucks pledged to phase out the use of gestation crates for pigs.” This statement gives the general public the illusion that gestation crates are used to harm farm animals, when in reality this practice is used to keep the sow safe during a vulnerable time.

Your money matters. Make sure to look behind your everyday labels and see where it actually goes.  I choose to support farmers, real farmers, those who are working toward feeding the nine billion in the best way they know how.