Nov. 14 (UPI) -- Farmers and ranchers in South Dakota are speaking out against the decision to feature singer and prominent vegetarian Joan Jett on the state's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade float.
Tourism Secretary Jim Hagen announced that Joan Jett and the Blackhearts would perform on the Mount Rushmore American Pride float, and the backlash was immediate.
Republican state Sen. Larry Rhoden thinks selecting someone who supports People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, "seems pretty odd."
"Her agenda through PETA does not represent South Dakota," he said. "The organization is obviously very anti-ag. They are very misinformed on the ag industry and the animal ag industry."
PETA denounces livestock farming practices, among other things, and the cattle industry makes up a substantial portion of the state's economy.
South Dakota Cattlemen's Association executive director Jodie Anderson was surprised by the pick.
"South Dakota Cattlemen's Association is very concerned that the South Dakota float would be featuring a prominent vegetarian on the Thanksgiving Parade float," she told the Rapid City Journal. "We hope that future floats would support not only the tourism industry but also agriculture."
The rock-and-roller was actually selected by Macy's, however, not state officials.
But Hagen believes Jett, 55, appeals to the generation most likely to take a trip to see the state's parks and monuments.
"For us, it's not about the talent on the float," he said. "It's about having Mount Rushmore featured before 3 million live viewers ... more than 100 million people around the world who are seeing that float."
"She holds views that I don't, but there are a lot of people who love her as an artist," Hagen continued. "It puts the focus on Mount Rushmore and South Dakota."
[Rapid City Journal]