March 26 2019 08:00 AM

A small group of animal rights activists are fighting against common agriculture practices; we have to speak up.

Each year, the Animal Agriculture Alliance releases reports from several major animal rights conferences to help keep our members and the broader industry informed. We believe that monitoring the strategies and tactics of activist groups is critical to anticipating their next move and mitigating any influence they may have on our customers and end consumers.

This past year, dairy was a major focus in these discussions. Conference speakers called on other activists to fight for the “reproductive rights” of dairy cows and other animals.

At one conference, using eggs from laying hens and milk from dairy cattle were mentioned as “female animal exploitation,” and this message was tied into feminism and women’s rights issues by several speakers. “We don’t allow them [animals] to do the thing they do so well, and that is be a mother,” said one speaker. Other activists also had opinions to offer on dairy, including "diabetes and obesity are worsened by drinking milk” and "dairy is not environmentally friendly."

The words of these extremists may make you angry, but I also hope they will motivate you to drown them out by sharing positive, accurate information about dairy in your communities. The activist movement is a very small minority, but they are very loud, strategic, and well-funded. We cannot allow their distorted version of the dairy industry to influence consumer perceptions and confidence in our products. We need to make sure consumers are hearing from us first about how dairy cattle are raised and treated.

I know you have no shortage of work to do on the farm, but I challenge you to take just 15 minutes per week to share positive information about dairy. This could be posting something on social media, sending an introductory email to a local legislator, or submitting a letter to the editor of a newspaper.

Communications may not be part of your job description, but if you want your business to remain viable, it needs to be part of your regular routine. The Animal Agriculture Alliance has resources to help — check us out at

Hannah Thompson-Weeman

The author is the communications director for Animal Agriculture Alliance.