Abuse videos are a guerilla tactic to turn public opinion against animal agriculture.
by Dennis Halladay, Hoard's Dairyman Western Editor
Are you fed up yet with undercover videos that show cows being mistreated?
Are you sick and tired yet of how it makes you feel to see the dairy industry's image trashed?
Are you scared yet that the public's patience for listening to dairying's side of the story is wearing thin?
Do you understand yet that you are in a war with terrorists who will use and justify any guerilla tactic to sabotage your industry and put you out of business?
The latest animal abuse images to surface, taken in Idaho at one of the biggest dairies in the U.S., should be a wake-up call about several harsh realities, including:
1. The videos are not being taken by longtime dairy employees who are trying to protect cows or who have an ax to grind with the dairy. Instead they are taken by infiltrators from animal rights groups who got hired so they could film anything that looks like it might be abuse.
2. Dairies that are very large or whose owners have high profiles are prime targets.
3. Consumers soon forget the dairy industry's deeply sincere assurances that, "This was an isolated incident that in no way represents what is normal and acceptable on farms" which come later. The disturbing images of abuse last much, much longer.
4. Videos will continue being made as long as dairy owners make it so easy for terrorist groups to put spies on their facilities.
Sure, it gets harder every day to find people who are willing to work on dairies. But the last thing you should do is stop being careful. Cows are your business and reputation, and there are groups out there that want to ruin both of them.
That's why hiring people who have access to your animals is perhaps the most important job you have. That's why carefully screening job applicants even if it means hiring professionals to do it is worth all the time, effort and cost involved. Because if you don't take that job dead seriously, the terrorists will eventually win.
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