Thompson-Weeman: No Room for Common Ground

Hopefully you saw PORK’s coverage of the California butcher shop that has given in to an animal rights activists group’s demands that they hang a sign on their storefront that says using animals for meat is “violent and unjust, no matter how it’s done.” The activist group in question is Direct Action Everywhere (DXE), known for their disruptions of public events and willingness to take extreme actions – even tampering with food in stores and breaking into barns during the night – to promote animal liberation.

The fact that this activist group was able to get the shop owners to agree to display the ridiculous sign is a testament to just how much pressure they are able to exert, and I certainly understand the desire to stop the constant protests and threats of escalation. The store owner is correct in calling this “ethical extortion” – although there’s nothing ethical about DXE’s actions.

The biggest problem is, they aren’t going to stop unless the butcher shop agrees to stop selling meat altogether. Direct Action Everywhere is on a proclaimed quest to turn the city of Berkeley meat-free by 2025 (and eventually the country as a whole, no doubt), and agreeing to any of their demands only fuels their extreme tactics and disregard for ethics, property rights, human and animal safety and the law.

It’s unfortunate that activist groups seem to think they have found success in attacking small businesses like this butcher shop and a restaurant in St. Louis, which also recently found itself a target of DXE. These incidents should be a call-to-action to those of us in agriculture to be communicating throughout the supply chain about the potential threat of animal rights activism and helping our customers – large and small – prepare to be targeted.

There is no room for finding common ground with individuals and people who believe that what we do, regardless of how well we do it, is fundamentally wrong. Everyone involved in animal agriculture – farmers and ranchers, input suppliers and farm service providers, foodservice companies, restaurants, grocery stores and other retailers – should be keeping a pulse on the activities of groups that want to end the industry, refusing to acquiesce to demands or attempt to make deals, and supporting one another.

The future and livelihood of animal agriculture depends on it.

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 information on the Alliance, go to: