As we prepare for Thanksgiving, most Americans are assuming a mindset of reflection and striving for peace and unity. Food is a prominent part of this season, and I always enjoy seeing messages of thanks exchanged between farmers who work hard to produce food and consumers who support them by buying their products.
Unfortunately, a small, radical group of animal rights extremists instead have fear and aggression on their minds. Our team at the Alliance is very concerned about the alarming trend of late-night break-ins and theft of livestock and poultry that has developed over the past year. All farmers and ranchers, and the businesses that work closely with them, need to be aware of these incidents and actively take steps to avoid being the next farm to be targeted.
October 2016: activists made a “stealth visit” to an egg farm, compromising biosecurity and bird health.
November 2016: activists broke in to a turkey farm late at night and “rescued” birds.
July 2017: “investigators” from Direct Action Everywhere snuck on to a pig farm in Utah and stole two piglets.
September 2017: a group of four activists from the Denver Baby Animal Save and Direct Action Everywhere Colorado stole chickens from an 8-year-old girl at a small, free-range farm in Colorado.
November 2017: activists (including a former Baywatch actress) announce that they broke into a dairy farm late at night in July and took a calf.
These are blatant attempts to harm the reputation of animal agriculture through well-known activist techniques. Activists record footage of sick animals in a hospital pen and claim all on the farm are in the same condition, or they will show only half of a barn full of birds, crowded together because of the person in the barn, and use it to claim they do not have enough space. Besides the one-sided result of these tactics with consumers, they also put the health and welfare of livestock and poultry at risk.
The Animal Agriculture Alliance recommends that farmers take the time to review farm security procedures and think of how to prevent trespassing and break-ins by activists. Make sure your barns are secured with locks and consider installing motion-activated lights and video surveillance. Alert your family members, employees and neighbors to this potential issue and ask them to help you keep an eye out for strange activity.
Editor’s Note: Hannah Thompson-Weeman is Communications Director at the Animal Agriculture Alliance. The opinions in this commentary are expressly those of the author. For more insights into activist activity and farm security, visit www.animalagalliance.org or contact us at [email protected].