22 August 2010 - We Need to Fight for Animal Agriculture

I continue to say, because I firmly believe, the greatest threat to the future of American agriculture comes from the radical animal rights and environmental groups that have one stated goal . . . . that is, to put an end to animal agriculture, the livestock industry, in the United States. They are serious and they have the dollars and the expertise to carry their message to the American public.

Keep in mind, if they succeed, they will also put out of business thousands of corn and soybean producers who provide feed and other inputs for livestock and poultry producers. Keep in mind, if they succeed, those of us who enjoy a steak, a pork chop, an egg or a glass of milk will depend on foreign producers for those products. They will be imported from other countries where food safety oversight is not nearly as strict as in this country.

That is why we in agriculture must continue to be vigilant and continue to respond to the ongoing attacks. When you talk about dollars and expertise, the Humane Society of the United States now goes to the ballot box to change the way you produce livestock, and they have been successful in getting enough votes in states like California, Arizona and Ohio to change livestock care practices. Expect them to continue to expand this campaign to other states.

The other direction taken by these groups is the courtroom. At the Cattle Industry Summer Conference in Denver, I talked to several cattlemen who depend on public lands, which they lease at a fee, to graze cattle. They lease it from government entities that control much of the land area in the West. Now, the groups who are trying to do away with the cattle industry are going to court to challenge the lease rights of these cattlemen, leases that have been in place for over a century. In many cases they succeed, the ranchers finally give up in frustration because they can’t afford the time or the legal costs to defend what is rightfully theirs.

The radical groups have realized that a pie in the face of the Iowa Pork Queen or nude women carrying protest signs at a cattle industry conference gets them media attention, but very little public support. So their approach now is much more sophisticated through the ballot box and the courtroom. Everyone involved in the livestock industry must be involved and prepared to meet them and beat them in these new arenas because the livestock industry is a critical and vital part of the American economy. We cannot afford to let them win.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.