Each year, the Animal Ag Alliance releases reports from major animal rights conferences. It’s one of the many ways that we work to keep the industry informed about what strategies and tactics may be used against us next. Activists are becoming more and more aggressive with undercover video campaigns, large-scale protests, and trespassing on farms, making it more important than ever for us to pay attention and try to stay a step ahead.
We just released a report from the 2019 Animal Rights National Conference. The event was organized by the Farm Animal Rights Movement and sponsored by Mercy for Animals, The Save Movement, Compassion Over Killing, and The Humane League, along with other animal rights extremist groups. Speakers at the conference made it clear their vision is animal liberation, not promoting animal welfare.
“There is no such thing as humane slaughter and anyone who tells you differently is simply lying,” said Michael Budkie of Stop Animal Exploitation Now. “We need to say that all animal agriculture is cruel and wrong,” Karen Davis of United Poultry Concerns. Demetria Atkinson of Redefine Your Mind argued, “Animals are people, too.”
Speakers focused on the use of “undercover” videos and the media to damage the reputation of animal agriculture and reach their goals. “Investigations are the single most powerful tool to expose the inherent cruelties in large-scale animal agriculture,” said William Rivas-Rivas of Animal Equality. “Make sure you start with something dramatic . . . that’s much more likely to go viral,” said Jane Velez-Mitchell of Jane UnChained News Network.
Unfortunately, several references to dairy throughout the conference make it clear that the industry remains in the crosshairs of activist groups. “The dairy industry embodies food injustice,” said Lauren Ornelas, Food Empowerment Project. “’Lactose-intolerant’ makes it seem like there’s something wrong with us, and there’s nothing wrong with not being able to digest the milk of another species.”
Hope Bonahec of United Poultry Concerns stated, “The dairy industry is nothing more than the sexual exploitation of cows. Veganism is a cow’s #MeToo movement.” Promoting vegan alternatives to dairy was also on the agenda, as Erica Meier of Compassion Over Killing claimed, “The dairy aisle is being taken over by alternative products.” Other speakers called for an end to the dairy industry to protect the environment, saying that humans and animals will be extinct by 2026 if we don’t all go vegan.
Hearing these kinds of statements about an industry that we all love can be disheartening, but it’s important to remember that the vast majority of consumers still eat meat and dairy products. This is a fact that activists at the conference even admitted. These statements should fuel our desire to communicate accurate information about dairy to key audiences while being mindful to security considerations. I encourage you to visit www.animalagalliance.org for more information on both securing your property and engaging with consumers and influencers.
The author is communications director for Animal Agriculture Alliance.