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.
I’ve written before about how “we’re all in this together” – if your business and livelihood involves using animals to benefit humans in any way, you are being targeted (or will be in the future) by animal rights extremists.
This message was clear as day at the Animal Agriculture Alliance’s recent Stakeholders Summit here in Arlington, themed “Protect Your Roots.” Within the crowd of over 300 at the Summit, we had representatives from every part of animal agriculture along with aquaculture, fisheries, fur, research and more. Each industry has lessons to share about how it has dealt with threats from animal rights activist organizations, and the Summit was a great opportunity to come together and help one another.
In one fascinating Summit session, a representative from the fur industry joined a researcher who focuses on understanding extreme groups to share findings from an ongoing study, which assesses the nature of the threat of animal rights activists. The insights they offered were equally chilling and interesting.
Of the nearly 100 people they interviewed (most were farmers or ranchers), almost half have received threats of violence. A quarter reported getting death threats. Almost 40% had been victims of farm or lab raids.
Our speaker’s family was one such victim. Activists released more than 11,000 mink from his family’s farm and more than 2,000 were lost or dead within 10 days. Two decades of breeding records were destroyed in the attack, which resulted in more than $1 million in monetary losses for the family.
Very Real Threats
The threat of being targeted due to working with animals is felt across industries, with half of survey respondents reporting being “a lot” or “very” worried about being a victim of terrorism because of their affiliation with an animal use industry. These concerns are certainly valid. Leaders in the animal rights movement are constantly encouraging activists to take action against farmers and others involved in animal production with “disruptions” of public events, protests outside of farms, plants and restaurants, break-ins and theft of animals, and more.
Preparation is key in handling incidents like this. I encourage you to take the time to think through how you would respond if your farm or business were on the receiving end of threats from activist groups.
The Alliance is always here to help and provide resources on farm security, managing protestors, threat monitoring and more.
It’s an unfortunate reality that we have to prepare our families, farms and businesses for being threatened by extreme activists, but there is reassurance in the fact that none of us is alone.
We truly are all in this together.