3 cautionary tales for the New Year

Every day, animal rights extremists find new ways to take meat, poultry, milk and eggs down. Hannah Thompson-Weeman, vice president of communications for Animal Agriculture Alliance, is the voice of Consumer Connection in Farm Journal’s PORK. Her columns inform readers about the latest strategies and tactics these animal rights groups are using (protests, trespassing, stealing animals, stopping trucks, etc.) so that you can hopefully avoid being targeted. Below are her top three stories of 2019 ranked by our readers.

1. Fair Oaks Targeted: Could You Be Next?
I am a big fan of Fair Oaks Farm and fairlife milk. I frequently cite Fair Oaks in presentations as an example of the value of transparency and importance of connecting consumers with modern animal agriculture. It has been extremely disheartening to see a farm well-known for doing the right thing (and demonstrating it for the public) be targeted by an animal rights activist group.

This should be a warning to all in animal agriculture that this could happen to any of us – in fact, the more committed you are to telling a positive story about agriculture, the more likely it is that activists will want to take you down. 

2. “Undercover” Videos Are Not Going Away: Hire Carefully
Farmers (and really all companies in animal agriculture) that hire outside employees depend on those individuals to focus on providing high quality care to their livestock. Unfortunately, animal rights activist groups are constantly trying to get hired on farms with completely different intentions. Agritourism giant Fair Oaks Farms was targeted by “undercover” activists earlier this year, which should serve as a reminder to everyone to review your hiring process and make sure you are being very selective about who is able to come onto your farm and handle your livestock. 

A few activist groups in particular are well-known for trying to get hired on farms, including Mercy for Animals and Animal Recovery Mission. Mercy for Animals is constantly recruiting for “undercover investigators” on public hiring sites like Indeed.com. 

3. Under Pressure: Activist Groups Continue Targeting Food Brands
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) recently announced a new scorecard tracking food brands’ progress toward pledges of sourcing only cage-free eggs that many companies made a few years ago. Wondering why HSUS feels they have the authority to monitor what products companies offer to their customers? The answer is alarming – and not just for egg producers.

Any company involved in the production, processing and retailing of milk, meat and eggs has one thing in common – the potential to be targeted by extreme animal rights orgs. These groups are opposed to people using animals for any reason, including for consumption. Among the many tactics used to advance their goal of eliminating animal agriculture and taking animal products off of our plates, one is of primary concern to any consumer-facing food brand  (and the farmers who supply them) – pressure campaigns and pushing for “incremental changes.” 

Read the original article by Jennifer Shike at porkbusiness.com here.

In the New Year’s spirit of looking ahead, these stories are a reminder that while we–as farmers, ranchers, pet owners, butchers, animal research scientists, and any other number of animal related professions–are trying to improve and grow, so are the animal rights activists. PETA and HSUS have New Year’s resolutions just like everybody else, except they have the means and the manpower to destroy industries (just look at what they’re trying to do to the exotic animal skin industry in California) with the completion of their resolutions.

As our identities and livelihoods are intricately connected to animals, we must resolve to be cautious and aware, now more than ever. The more Americans grow further and further from the farm and from animals the more they unwittingly and ignorantly follow what sounds good on paper.

Let’s resolve to make 2020 a better year for the producer and the consumer, because at the end of the day, we aren’t in a battle against each other, but against the animal rights activists. We must also remember: never concede to an animal rights activist, because when you give an inch, they take a mile.

Italicized paragraphs are the addition of The Cavalry Group Team

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