How Much Do Cattle Ranchers Hate the Humane Society? Just Ask Yellow Tail Wine

Last Updated Feb 17, 2010 6:59 PM EST

If what's happened to Yellow Tail wine in recent weeks is any guide, companies might want to think twice before making public donations to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).

The Australian wine maker's donation of $100,000 to the Humane Society prompted ranchers, farmers and hunters across the land to launch an online boycott of Yellow Tail wines. Humane Society haters twittered everyone they knew and started a Facebook page called Yellow Fail that currently has 2,973 agitated fans. It was only a matter of days before, W.J. Deutsch, the American distributor of Yellow Tail wine, changed course and earmarked the funds only for the Humane Society's animal rescue efforts. The company has yet to return the money or ditch its "[tails] for tails" promotion with HSUS, but ranchers and other meat producers are working on that.

Hatred runs deep for the Humane Society because the group's goals are far more ambitious and contentious than simply rescuing stray cats and Michael Vick's dogs. An advocacy group based in Washington, DC that's unaffiliated with the local humane society where you go to get a new pet, the HSUS wants to end dog breeding ("puppy mills") and many forms of hunting. And its campaign against factory farming seeks to prevent farmers from cramming thousands of animals into confined spaces and to stop unsavory practices like cutting off the tails of dairy cows. In Ohio, the group is behind a ballot initiative that would mandate certain minimum standards to prevent the inhumane treatment of farm animals.

For farmers, this puts the Humane Society right up there with PETA and hippy vegetarian activists. Talk of hens too top heavy to even stand up and meat from sick cows going into the school lunch program sends fear into the hearts of people like fifth generation South Dakota rancher Troy Hadrick, who worries that the Humane Society wants to take away his livelihood. Hadrick filmed himself dumping out a bottle of what I can only assume is a lovely chardonnay onto the snow as his cattle looked on in the background. On the Yellow Fail page boycotters recount their own Yellow Tail dumping stories and send dispatches on how many local restaurants they've gotten to remove the popular and affordable wine from their wine lists.

Photo from www.yellowtailwine.com