Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Animal rights extremists may be targeting your farm


Hannah Thompson is the communications director for the Animal Agriculture Alliance.

(This blog post is from Oct. 20)

Last week, I attended a lunch event in DC where Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of Humane Society of the U.S., was the headline speaker. Am I some kind of glutton for punishment? I may be, but it is valuable to hear how the other side of the issues we work on presents itself.

Of all that was said during Pacelle’s presentation, perhaps what was most remarkable was what was missing. One usual top vocabulary term from animal rights extremists did not make one appearance in Pacelle’s 30-minute presentation – “factory farm.”
The “factory farm” terminology is a huge source of frustration for animal agriculture. What the term lacks in a technical definition it more than makes up for in negative connotations. Animal rights and environmental extremist groups have done their best to make “factory farm” the commonly accepted term for any type of large livestock or poultry operation, and advocates for animal agriculture have done our best to mitigate its reach.
Could we have some unlikely allies in that attempt?
A few speakers at the Animal Rights National Conference, which I touched on in a previous post, seem to be saying yes. Speakers at the conference commented on how the term might be distracting from the animal rights movement’s end goal: ending animal agriculture in all shapes and sizes. A few relevant remarks from conference speakers:
  • “When we show people how bad and egregious factory farming is, most people will say, ‘Well, I should go to a different farm.’ We need to focus on more on how all farming is bad, not just factory farming.” 
  • “This isn’t a fight against factory farming. It’s about a new way of life.” 
  • “The term factory farm had its time. We have inadvertently created the alternative animal agriculture industry. All animal agriculture is bad.”
I won’t go so far as to say that the “factory farm” term is being retired, but there is an apparent trend here, and that is a move to focus efforts on all segments of animal agriculture, despite the size. That shift is clear in PETA’s recent targeting of Whole Foodswith an undercover video campaign and lawsuit.
Small, local, organic, alternative meat and poultry producers beware…your operations may be moving closer to the center of the animal rights movement’s target.

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