Yellowtail Backs Off HSUS Donation

It appears that after a large grassroots backlash, Yellowtail Winery will no longer be donating to HSUS in support of animals. The Pulse reported earlier this month about a firestorm that was ignited on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook regarding a proposed $100,000 donation by Yellowtail to HSUS. Within hours, ag advocates were messaging the winery on its Facebook page, twitter and in the news media. Many wondered why Yellowtail would want to donate to an organization that spends less than 2% of its $200,000,000 on direct animal care.

After assuring those concerned customers that “We are listening,” Yellowtail went ahead and donated the money anyway, saying that the money would be targeted to HSUS’s animal rescue team.

The response by the ag community was swift. Troy Hadrick, a South Dakota rancher and former AFBF YF&R officer posted a video on his blog, showing him pouring out a bottle of Yellowtail in a corral. An anti-Yellowtail faccebook page was launched and the term “Yellowfail” was quickly entered into the vernacular.

Since then, has examined the squabble and the story was picked up in newspapers across the country. AFBF President Bob Stallman sent a letter to the winery’s owner.

In the end the grassroots effort won out as Yellowtail released a statement saying that the winery would be looking for other groups to donate to in the future.

“Yellow Tail is committed to the plight of animals in need and as a result, we can confirm that through any future activity, we will be looking to other non-profit organisations without lobbying interests that best deliver on our intended outcome of saving animals,” the statement said.

Mr Casella says he never anticipated any negative criticism of the donation and the intention of the partnership with the HSUS was to celebrate and save animals.

“Being farmers ourselves, we acknowledge those who care for their land and their environment, just as we do,” he said.

“We are proud of our rural heritage and value a solid relationship with agricultural communities around the world.”

The statement was a huge win for grassroots agriculture using the new medium of Social Media to effect change. It underscores the importance of producers taking an active role in advocating for their organization.

There are several valuable lessons to be learned from this on-line firestorm. 1. Scattered independent farmers can join their voices for a cause and magnify their influence via Social Media. 2. Others outside of agriculture now recognize HSUS as a political entity, not a charitable organizations (IRS are you paying attention).  3. Hard working farmers have a sense of humor and that humor can be used to good effect to educate businesses and the public online.

Producers who have shunned Social Media in the past should go out and start-up an account on Twitter of Facebook today!


2 responses to this post.

  1. The power of social media. Go ag!


  2. Posted by Dorothy Nepa on February 24, 2010 at 3:40 am

    Yeah for Stallman and Yellowtail’s new decision. HSUS is not charitable.


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