ST LOUIS, Mo. – The Humane Society Legislative Fund (HSLF), the Humane Society of the United States’ (HSUS) political advocacy organization, is zeroing in on two of the Missouri agricultural community’s biggest advocates in the closing days of the election.

The HSLF sent out a mailer attacking Democratic gubernatorial nominee Chris Koster and Republican lt. gubernatorial nominee Mike Parson. Koster and Parson are both endorsed by most of Missouri’s agriculture groups including the Missouri Farm Bureau, the Missouri Cattleman’s Association, and the Missouri Corn Growers Association.

The mailing attacks both Koster and Parson for being against pet owners. Both Koster and Parson were leaders in the passage of Missouri’s Right-to-Farm amendment in 2014, and even though Koster supported the HSUS-sponsored “puppy mill amendment” in 2010, he still has the support of the state’s agricultural groups.

Attorney General Chris Koster made his case to Missouri Farm Bureau members Aug. 5. Hours later, he received the group's endorsement.
Attorney General Chris Koster made his case to Missouri Farm Bureau members Aug. 5. Hours later, he received the group’s endorsement.

Blake Hurst, the president of the Missouri Farm Bureau, reiterated their support for Koster. The Democrat won the endorsement of the traditionally Republican supporting group with an overwhelming 76 percent of the group’s vote in August.

“No acronym symbolizes anti-agriculture quite like HSUS,” Hurst said in a statement Thursday. “They don’t support today’s agriculture, they don’t support consumers having food choices and they absolutely don’t have Midwest values and beliefs,”

“Missourians need to fight back and say ‘No!’ to out-of-state groups like HSUS. Koster has supported Missouri agriculture. It’s time we support him.”

Kathy Warnick, the president of the Humane Society of Missouri, also stepped in to defend Koster’s record on the puppy mill amendment.

“The Humane Society of Missouri wishes to reiterate our sincere gratitude to Mr. Koster for his support of Proposition B strengthening regulations for commercial dog breeding facilities,” she said in a letter, reiterating his support for animal welfare. “Under Mr. Koster’s leadership, the Attorney General’s Office has vigorously enforced the subsequent Canine Cruelty Prevention Act (CCPA) of 2011.”

The Humane Society of Missouri is a separate entity from the HSUS and the HSLF.

David Turner, the spokesman for the Koster campaign, reiterated Koster’s support for both the agricultural community and for his support of 2010’s Proposition B.

“[Koster] helped bring reform to the industry, while protecting the livelihoods of Missouri’s pet breeders, the vast majority of whom are good-hearted business people who care for their animals,” Turner said. “He believes that Missouri’s farmers are the best stewards of animal welfare. As Governor, he will continue to work to strike a balance between the need to protect animals and the interests of Missouri farmers.”

Greitens has been endorsed by HSLF senior legislative director and former Democratic Lt. Governor Joe Maxwell in an unofficial capacity, and Carnahan has been endorsed by the organization itself.

Parson also responded to attack, saying he was not surprised that the HSLF would attempt to aid Carnahan.

“They know I will do everything I can to defend our state’s family farmers and ranchers from their radical, anti-agriculture agenda. I think voters will see through this special interest group’s baseless attacks and see the truth – that HSUS’s endorsed candidate Russ Carnahan’s liberal record shows he is the wrong choice for our state and will not stand up for our agriculture industry, the lifeblood of our economy. Missourians know and deserve better.”

Parson himself is a rancher who owns a cattle-calf operation near Bolivar.