Skip to content

On What the Animal Ag Alliance Thinks of Us

Through all of the damage control and message-neutralizing I have to do due to PeTA campaigns or someone lumping me with PeTA–or the HSUS, for that matter–I always remember that the real enemy of my cause is someone who wants to convince the world that there is nothing wrong with using animals when we have no need to and who profits from the "production" and slaughter of sentient nonhumans.

Bea directed me to an interview with Dr. Elizabeth Parker, the "chairman" (my emphasis) of the Animal Agriculture Alliance at CattleNetwork, which apparently is "The Source for Cattle News."

Let's deconstruct:

  • The interview reminds me of how the industry views us and how little they know about the community of people who care about the lives of the animals brought into this world for one reason only: to kill and eat them.
  • The industry calls us all "animal rights activists" and of course uses the ridiculous "extremists" (read: a person with a principle manifested in her actions) and the Communications Director of the AAA, Philip Lobo, says of extremists, "many of whom are vegans, who are willing to use drastic measures in their attempts to impose their dietary choices onto others." Of course, Lobo is missing the point entirely. If any "drastic measures" are employed, they are to remove animals from suffering, not to impose our dietary choices on others. Are we pinning people down and force-feeding them vegan burritos? 
  • According to Parker, here are the threats: the ALF, the ELF, SHAC, PeTA and the oddest member of the group, the HSUS. "The Humane Society of the United States is the big bully on this strange playground. Often confused with American Humane Association, they raise tens of millions, not to ‘save the animals’ as most people assume but to further the causes of vegetarianism and ending animal agriculture." I wish their mission was to end animal agriculture. But I see no evidence of that and I'm not sure how Parker comes to that conclusion. They do appear to wish to put an end to what they believe are the worst abuses of institutionalized animal agriculture, such as gestation crates and veal crates, but that's hardly a call to end animal agriculture. The HSUS isn't even anti-hunting!
  • Parker uses the term "anti-modern farming activists," which is new to me. I prefer "anti-unnecessary slaughter of sentient nonhumans" and it has nothing to do with perceived modernity. Besides, is the "modern" veal crate something to be proud of? It's a great spin, though, making us appear like we're somehow way behind the times. Perhaps it is the industry's inability to evolve morally that is behind the times.
  • Here's the part that's most frightening if Parker really believes it (and I assume she does): "I would say most of the anti-agriculture/activists groups that exist are a tremendous danger, not only to agriculture, but also to the United States and our world. 'Activist' has become a profession in itself. Most exist as self-serving entities to solely keep themselves in existence. It’s not really about the issues, being constructive, or improving the world." The exact opposite of this is true, however. Our intentions and actions move us toward our goal of making the world a better place. And of course what we do is about the issues. The choices we make each day reflect our believes. We live our issues.
  • Finally, there is some truth in this, but for reasons Parker is not aware of: "Millions of dollars have been raised by these activists groups under false pretenses, with the very real result of causing harm to animals. In the bigger picture, it is dis-heartening that these activists groups cause so much harm to the very animals they profess to be “defending”. Many of them have the real goal of abolishing animal agriculture. Amazing isn’t it? It’s sad that so many well-meaning people, who genuinely care about animals, are giving money to these groups, not knowing what it’s actually being used for. Just think of all of the positive things that could be accomplished with that energy and money." It is true that millions have been raised under false pretenses, but the reality is once again the opposite of what Parker believes. Vegans give money to organizations that they think are going to further their vegan cause but that's not what ends up happening with all 100% of those donations (let's assume some goes to vegan education or animal rescue or even open rescue). "Just think of how much vegan education and animal care could be accomplished with the money in those large organizations" is what I would say to Parker.

This was my reality check for today: someone who defends animal agriculture as a tradition (i.e., we did it yesterday so we should do it today) and because there's profit in it. Perhaps "modern" should instead be defined as: ceasing to do what we did yesterday because we realized it was wrong.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
One Comment Post a comment
  1. Bea Elliott #

    The article's repetitive use of the phrase "for safe, affordable and abundant food and fiber" was painfully annoying. Add to this the implication that vegans and animal advocates are anti-progress really got my dander. They are the ones stuck in the primordial goo of clubbing (stunning) animals and wearing their skins… As a vegan I want to distance myself as far as possible from the antediluvian customs they still celebrate and call "modern" practices.

    Yet, in the same voice of attempting to sound so progressive, The Animal Agriculture Alliance called upon a Baptist minister to speak at their Eighth Annual Stakeholders Summit, themed "Politics, Activism and Religion: Influencing the Debate on Animal Welfare in America".

    "Dr. Jamison explained that two major factors are driving animal rights groups' attempts to engage people of faith. The first is that people motivated by religion tend to give generously, which is an important factor to the $400 million a year animal rights industry. The second reason is that people motivated by religious zeal tend to have sustained intensity over time. This is a critical feature lacking from the current animal rights movement, since many vegans and vegetarians tend to eventually return to an omnivorous diet.

    Dr. Jamison indicated that animal rights groups are carefully selecting religious passages that appeal to targeted individuals' sense of compassion, self-denial, and guilt. He then pointed to Biblical stories that directly refute the messages and went on to label animal rights groups engaging in this tactic as "meaning entrepreneurs."

    "We caution people against buying in to such messages and encourage people to do their own review of Biblical scripture and literature," said Kay Johnson Smith, Executive Vice President of the Animal Agriculture Alliance (Alliance). "Farmers and ranchers are among the most compassionate people in the world and are committed to the care of their animals as a top priority."

    So I wonder… are they defending their "modern farming" practices with scripture? Indeed they are!

    In an Agri-talk podcast this minister begins another interview with this: Why do animal even matter? If you believe in evolution; we won! Why should we wring our hands about it? "If dolphins don't like it… they should grow opposable thumbs and maybe they can farm us in a million years".

    Jamison goes on to say that not only did "gOd" give us permission to use animals – But that it was "commanded" to do such. "God commanded the sacrifice of 2 – 3 million animals during passover…"
    So, we have a "duty" to continue the practice today… (a thousand fold).

    He specifically mentions Peta, Farm Sanctuary and HSUS – The podcast is really worth listening to – for a more complete look at how animal agriculture views animal activists, and what little regard they truly have for animals… it's almost "contempt".

    I disagree that people who contribute to HSUS don't know where their money is going… Anyone can see on their logo that there are cats, pigs, dogs, cows, wolves, etc. HSUS doesn't keep their (very long term) agenda a "secret" from anyone; vegan abolitionists included.

    Parker is setting animal "activists" out to be world "terrorists". Combine this with Jamison's view that we are also a threat to biblical mandates and I see a good old fashioned witch hunt brewing.

    Going in a different direction – towards a healthier, sustainable and compassionate world is a long overdue, innovative approach… Theirs is an exhausted, passe' malignance. And certainly on the religious end, I'm quite certain no one will betray their faith if they choose not to kill animals.

    May 31, 2009

Leave a comment to Bea Elliott Cancel reply

You may use basic HTML in your comments. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS