Jan. 4 2019 09:15 AM

Today’s dairy producers should really have a plan in place to protect their farm from animal activists.

While dairy farming is obviously a year-round occupation, things do tend to slow down a bit over the winter. This makes it an ideal time to review records and plan for the new year. As you think about how to make sure your farm and family thrive in 2019, I’d like you to consider farm security and how to protect your operation from activist threats.

Unfortunately, there are individuals and groups out there who are vehemently opposed to the mere existence of animal agriculture. For these animal rights extremists, there are no animal welfare standards or ways of caring for animals that would be considered acceptable. This small but very vocal minority does not believe we should be using animals for food (or any other purpose). They dedicate a lot of time, money, and resources to spread myths and misinformation to consumers about animal agriculture to convince them to not support our industry.

These groups took their activism to new extremes in 2018, and I’m sure we will see increased aggression in 2019. Every farm and business that involves animals needs to have a plan in place for handling potential activist activity. A few scenarios to consider:

  • An activist sneaks onto your farm at night and steals a calf. Later they return and protest across the street insisting that you release the calf’s dam so they can be reunited.
  • A group of 500 activists arrives at your farm. They protest for hours and continue to demand that you allow them to come onto your property and take animals. A large group of them trespass and attempt to steal several animals.
  • Someone drives onto your farm and harasses your employees. They start filming and taking photos and refuse to leave when asked.

Do these incidents sound extreme? All three are real situations that farmers in locations across the country dealt with this year. Are you prepared to handle any of these issues if they were to arise on your farm?

I hate to add one more item to your list of things to worry about, but it is an unfortunate reality that farmers must create and maintain a crisis plan. The Animal Agriculture Alliance is here to monitor these groups and help you respond. Throughout this year, I will be sharing the latest developments in activism and offering advice for action you need to take.

For more resources on activism and farm security, visit www.animalagalliance.org.

Hannah Thompson-Weeman

Hannah is communications director for Animal Agriculture Alliance.