After an 18-month hiatus, it was fantastic to see so many smiling faces at the Cattle Industry Convention. The mood was light, the CattleFax forecast was promising, the trade show was overflowing with vendors and Nashville was beautiful in August. Things almost felt…dare we say it..normal. Visiting with agriculture friends is always refreshing, and this year was no different.

Even if you’re not involved in industry organizations and you don’t routinely attend local, state or national meetings, it’s important to keep an eye on industry issues. Even if they are not impacting your operation today, they might down the road. One such issue is monitoring animal rights activist organizations.

Hannah Thompson-Weeman of the Animal Agricultural Alliance recently wrote an editorial for PORK detailing some strategies activist organizations are utilizing. Friends recently shared her editorial on Facebook, and it was enlightening. She talked about the aggressive nature of many of the groups, and quoted their tactics for attacking agriculture. One alarming tactic included purchasing stock so the activists can submit shareholder resolutions and attend annual meetings.

“This helps us get a foot in the door because companies hate it when we speak at their yearly pep rallies. Even the mere threat of attending such meetings has opened doors.”

Other quotes included:

“I’m not interested in people’s feelings. I’m not interested in people all that much. I want one thing: to create a world where animals live their own lives according to their own will.”

“We are opposed to any exploitation of animals….not just making sure they are anesthetized before being killed for a shoe or a steak, but not being killed for either.”

If you don’t think these activists could have a direct impact on your operation, here’s a wake up call. A few months ago, I shared information in FEED•LOT about Sen. Cory Booker, a vegan member of the Senate Agricultural Committee who is working to shut down all feedyards over 1,000 head. That one hit home, fast!

Another area of concern is preserving animal exhibitions. Many of us in agriculture grew up in FFA and 4-H, learning countless life lessons and exploring future ag careers by raising livestock projects. A proposed ban on rodeo and animal exhibitions in Southern California looks to change that. The Los Angeles City Attorney was recently tasked to write an ordinance that prohibits any event in which animals are induced or encouraged to perform through the use of any practice or technique.

According to Protect the Harvest, should this legislation move forward, all animal activities in Los Angeles are at risk, including dog and horse shows, livestock shows, rodeo, etc. The legislation is gaining steam after animal extremist groups have rallied their people to sign a petition and comment on a website with the City of Los Angeles.

Animal Extremists are now saying they plan to target the Spanish Days Fiesta and Rodeo in Santa Barbara. The animal liberation group “Million Dollar Vegan” is behind the attack on the rodeo. The group believes no animal should be utilized by humans, and they should not be in human care.

Should legislation like this move forward, it sets a precedent for other cities and counties to follow suit. Simply put, we just can’t sit around and assume they will go away, or it’s someone else’s job to fight.

As Dr. Ron Gill put it when he shared the PORK editorial on Facebook, “They are a very small but very loud and dedicated group. Wouldn’t it be nice if animal ag was just as dedicated to fighting this.”

We should be. We CAN be. Don’t sit back and hope it doesn’t happen in your neighborhood. Get involved at some level or at the very least, get informed. There are multiple non-profits dedicated to protecting animal agriculture and the western way of life.