Senior Farm and Ranch Broadcaster, Ron Hays, is talking with Emily Ellis of the Animal Agriculture Alliance about work the group is doing to tackle issues regarding animal activist groups.
“At the Animal Agriculture Alliance, we are here to monitor animal rights groups and adversarial groups, so farmers and ranchers don’t have to,” Ellis said. “We know that they have a lot on their plate already, so we can do that lift for them. We can keep tabs on them and then share that information with them.”
One of the issues the Alliance is focusing on now, Ellis said, includes a “Right to Rescue” campaign from a group called Direct Action Everywhere.
“This campaign they have been lobbying for very heavily over the last year is what they describe as their right to rescue,” Ellis said. “We consider animal theft where, essentially, they are breaking into farms and facilities, stealing animals, and they are facing court trials across the country for these actions.”
Recently, Ellis said the co-founder of Direct Action Everywhere was found guilty of animal theft in California. Ellis added that the co-founder could be sentenced to up to three and a half years in prison.
“In previous cases, we have seen them get a few not guilty verdicts, even though they had admitted to stealing the animals, so we are watching it very closely to see as these trials continue to progress,” Ellis said.
As the Alliance has attended a number of animal rights conferences over the past year, Ellis said some of the biggest trends include a focus on legislation.
“Especially ballot initiatives have been huge,” Ellis said. “It relies on a general lack of understanding or lack of knowledge from the public about modern animal agriculture and why we do what we do. We have been seeing them use ballot initiatives as a way to make progress towards their ultimate agenda, which is to eliminate animal agriculture and consumer choice.”
There has also been a big push toward restaurant and retail groups, Ellis said, where animal activists are putting pressure on them to adopt certain policies, they claim are better for animals.
“This includes things like moving towards cage-free eggs, eliminating the use of gestation stalls in the pork community, so really trying to dictate what farmers and ranchers are doing, and their goal is to drive up the cost of farming and ranching for farmers to stay in business, but also to drive up the cost of meat, dairy, poultry and eggs in the grocery store as well, so that you and I have to make more difficult decisions…,” Ellis said.
Ellis recommends that farmers and ranchers are proactive and that they are selective about who may visit their property. This can mean installing security measures, and background checking potential employees.
“If you are not sharing your story, somebody else is going to share it for you, and these animal rights groups are very happy to share their side and their perspective, so as many farmers and ranchers and people within animal ag that we can get to share those stories- the better off we will be,” Ellis said.
The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region on the Radio Oklahoma Ag Network and is a regular audio feature found on this website as well. Click on the LISTEN BAR for today’s show and check out our archives for older Beef Buzz shows covering the gamut of the beef cattle industry today.