The agriculture industry is under attack from a powerful, popular and well-funded lobby - animal rights groups, which want to see it die completely, said two speakers at the Animal Agriculture Alliance 9th Anual Stakeholders Summit in Arlington, Va., Wednesday.
“You are not dealing with people who want to reach acommodation with the agricultural industry about what is proper animal husbandry,” Wesley Smith, author of the 2010 book “A Rat Is a Pig Is a Dog Is a Boy: The Human Cost of the Animal Rights Movement,” told the audience, which comprised primarily members of the animal agriculture industry. “Their intent is that you have no pigs, that you have no chickens … in fact the agenda is to do away with all animal domesticity, which they see as a multi-generational project.”
He noted the irony inherent in veganism, a practice in which one consumes no animal products, because of the large number of rodents and snakes that die in grain silos and in grain fields during harvest.
“Nobody on this planet … eats unless animals die,” he said. “Veganism is just as much “murder” as eating meat is.”
Smith distinguished between the terms ‘animal rights’ and ‘animal welfare’ and said groups that claim to be involved in the former are not concerned about the treatment of animals, but rather in furthering ther agenda of equating animal and human worth via the proponence of legal rights for animals.
“They do not believe we should look at the human benefit” of using animals for drug testing, food or clothing, Smith said, adding that foremost on American animal rights’ groups agenda at the moment is to allow animals to sue humans directly. He told the story of a Swiss court case in which a lawyer represented a fish that had been caught and consumed in an animal abuse case. The fisherman had been accused of taking too long to reel in the fish.
David Martosko, director of research at the Center for Consumer Freedom in Washington and the editor of the humanewatch.org, which monitors the activities of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), said the goals of both People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the HSUS are the same: to make animal protein costly enough to produce and buy that fewer and fewer people consume it.
“If they have their way the next big foreclosure crisis in America is gong to be on the farm,” Martosko warned. He showed the audience a slide of a photgraph taken of the back of an envelope included in one of HSUS’s marketing mailings several years ago. On it was a list of ways the recipient of the mailing can “help farm animals.”
“How you help farm animals is reduce your consumption of meat and replace … [it] with vegetarian alternatives, [according to this envelope],” Martosko said, adding that noticeably absent from the envelope was any mention of taking care of one’s animals with adequate shelter and food.
“HSUS is in the business of creating conflict between you and your consumers” not the business of animal welfare, he said.
Less than half of 1 percent of the HSUS’s budget goes to local animal shelters, according to Martosko, who said the organization spent $24 million on fundraising on 2008 and more than $37 million on employee salaries.
“Five times as much money goes to their pensions as goes to pet shelters,” he said.
Both Martosko and Smith said the animal agriculture industry needs to step up proactive campaigning in the face of an adversary with no willigness to compromise.
“‘Cage-free’ is not enough” for them, Martosko said. “You have two choices if you want to win any battle with them … You either raise your own public profile or you lower theirs. I’m suggesting you do both at the same time.”