Senior Farm and Ranch Broadcaster, Ron Hays, is back talking with the Animal Agriculture Alliance president and CEO, Hannah Thompson-Weeman, about staying up to date with the movement of animal activist groups.
“We have profiles on nearly 200 or probably more than 200 at this point- different organizations that are targeting animal agriculture in one way or another,” Thompson-Weeman said. “We do monitor those groups extensively, including issuing reports from national animal rights conferences. We have issued several of those reports to our members from the past year.”
One major trend from those reports to be mindful of, Thompson-Weeman said, is the focus on legislation.
“Groups are talking about starting at the very local level to get legislation introduced and move that along to set a precedent that they can expand that would really impact our ability to do business,” Thompson-Weeman said.
Additionally, Thompson-Weeman said there is a lot of pressure on restaurant, retail, and food service brands.
“They know that if they can get a household name, restaurant, retail brand, to adopt a policy for their animal supply chain, that is going to have a big impact,” Thompson-Weeman said. “They are really upping the ante on pressuring those restaurant, retail, food service brands by going after investors, issuing scorecards, social media campaigns, going to executives’ private homes to protest, and a lot of extreme measures to push those brands into adopting policies that will impact their animal protein supply chain.”
Activist groups, Thompson-Weeman said, are showing a large amount of concern around the sustainability of the food supply chain.
“In addition to farm security and being mindful of these issues, we also recommend being proactive in developing relationships,” Thompson-Weeman said. “
Putting a face on animal agriculture in your community, Thompson-Weeman said, can be of great benefit if a situation with one of these activist groups arises. A strategy Thompson-Weeman referenced is the “trust bank.” Each time a producer has a positive interaction with someone in their community regarding their operation, that is a deposit into their “trust bank account.”
“If there ever is an issue or something going on in your industry and you need the community to trust you that you are doing the right thing, you have got a deposit- a balance built up to draw against,” Thompson-Weeman said. “If you have done nothing proactive, you are going to be over-drafting from the beginning, and you don’t have that goodwill built up.”
Building these relations now, Thompson-Weeman said, is critical because waiting until an issue arises will be too late.
“We are always optimistic about animal protein,” Thompson-Weeman said. “People love it, protein is hot, and consumption trends are strong. These activist groups might be successful at getting their negativity out there, but they have not been successful at turning people away from healthy, affordable, sustainable meat, poultry, dairy and egg.”
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