It is there at every Triple Crown show. If you’ve visited the Exhibit Hall at the Will Rogers Coliseum in Fort Worth, you’ve probably seen the “Protect The Harvest” (PTH) booth and wondered what it was all about? But what, you may ask, does farming and protecting it, have to do with cutters?
No, it is not an insurance scheme for crops ruined by flood, hail, or drought, or a lobby group for farming subsidies as it may sound like. It is, in fact, a metaphorical name to apply to all of agriculture, horses included, about protecting a way of life.
“At Protect The Harvest we promote responsible animal ownership and that’s like these events here,” said Shawn Burtenshaw referring to the NCHA Super Stakes that was underway.
The non-profit group was founded in 2011 by Forrest Lucas, owner of Lucas Oil, the Super Stake’s major sponsor.
“These animals are so well cared for. I mean this is animal welfare at its finest at these events, at 4H shows, at rodeos. Animal rights groups, extreme animal rights groups want to see these events completely eliminated. They view any use of any animals as animal slavery,” said Burtenshaw, a spokesman for the organization.
“We want people to have the rights to make that decision not the animals to have the rights, the same rights as people,” he added.
PTH was created to “fight against animal rights groups who want to end meat consumption, halt consumer access to affordable food, eliminate all hunting practices, and outlaw rodeos, circuses and pet ownership” as stated on the PTH website.
Burtenshaw said the USDA monitors the raising of livestock using strict standards and regulations already in place.
He said Lucas saw the need for a group to defend the livelihoods and industries of agriculture, livestock and sport and to push back against animal rights activists who were extremely vocal.
“People were afraid to go up against these animal rights groups because they use bullying tactics and you know, they get very, very aggressive. And as agriculturists [they] are very recessive. We just get to work and provide and do our thing,” Burtenshaw said.
Specific issues PTH is championing include the ELD mandate which may force people who haul horses to get a commercial truck driver’s license.
Burtenshaw said their motto is to inform, protect and respond, using education to spread the word and motivate people to take action.
“We’re going to save agriculture in America. That’s our goal,” he said.
“Most people in the West do not know where their food comes from. They have impression it comes from a grocery store. So information is key.”
Burtenshaw said PTH runs some counter campaigns against what he called radical organizations. He said people need to become engaged. He said there are many ways people can get involved by going to their website www.protecttheharvest.com, contacting their local representative on issues that affect them, share PTH’s social media posts, volunteer for the organization or even make a financial contribution.
“Don’t sit idly by and think somebody is going to take care of it for you. We are the lead organization on this but we can’t do it on our own. We need help,” he encouraged.
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