A few years ago, a co-worker and I took a short stroll after a hearty afternoon lunch. As it was a cold day in Chicago, I wore my fake-fur coat. A man suddenly appeared in a flash, punched me hard on the arm, screamed an accusatory obscenity and ran off leaving me rather undone in his wake. Needless to say, I shall never forget that up-close and personal encounter with a hateful animal-rights terrorist. Even though my fake-fur coat was the victim of mistaken identity, the incident proved the reality of perception. These are scary people. They claim to be animal-rights advocates, but I see them as animal-rights criminals with absolutely no compunction about playing fast and loose with my civil rights â€” and yours.
The growing threat of radical animal-rights activism is on the minds of members of the Texas Cattle Feeders Association (TCFA) â€” which is not to say it ever left the minds of these vulnerable livestock producers. Few speak more eloquently and forthrightly on this issue than Steve Kopperud, who brings some 25 years of knowledge and experience to his role as a field soldier battling such industry terrorists. I first encountered his ideas a decade ago, when he was senior vice president of the American Feed Industry Association. He now serves as senior vice president of Policy Directions Inc., a Washington, D.C.-based government affairs company specializing in production agriculture, agribusiness, food and research/health-related issues.
“The danger of activists advancing their cause through the federal government is greater than ever, and livestock producers must take a more aggressive stand to protect their industry,” Kopperud warned at the recent TCFA convention. “Animal-rights activists find an increasingly welcome environment on Capitol Hill where fewer and fewer members of Congress have any direct connection to agriculture and there are fewer and fewer that actually make the connection between cost of production and what their constituents pay for food.”
Hear, hear. A renewed clarion call in the making. That being the case, it behooves those in the agriculture sector to adopt bold and aggressive positions, if they hope to get through to policymakers in the new administration under President-elect Obama. Those of us fed up with cowering before these terrorists must join forces, draw a line in the sand and prepare to reclaim our civil liberties.
These are powerful foes and should not be taken lightly â€” don’t forget their reign of terror in Britain with their bombings and other heinous crimes against animal agriculture. Their most recent victory in America is voter approval of California’s Proposition 2, the animal-rights ballot measure outlawing confining cages for egg-laying hens and restrictive pens for veal calves and pregnant sows. The measure takes effect in 2015. Despite the outing of a few bad actors, humane handling and animal welfare are guiding principles in the industry. Would it be that human animals were held in such high regard!
But I digress, so back to the subject at hand.
As Kopperud notes, agribusiness will face many more challenges in the next decade. At the top of the agenda is the need to educate urbanites who have no clue about what’s involved concerned farming, ranching and food manufacture. Part of the blame for this ignorance rests squarely on the shoulders of the industry. “We in agriculture allowed the issue to slide off our screens during the 1990s,” Kopperud confirms, explaining that the propaganda of animal-rights activists has been aided by the fact that producers are not doing a good job of speaking out to consumers, retailers, legislators and the media.
“We were winning,” he says. “We had stopped everything on a federal basis; we had stopped most of the legislation on a state basis, and we let this issue languish.” I agree with Kopperud that there are no more credible sources on where food comes from and how it is produced than the men and women who produce it.
We need to do a better job of protecting ourselves. There is no stronger weapon than unity. I was assured of my co-worker’s assistance had I the chance to defend myself against that fake-fur terrorist on that cold day in Chicago. I pledge to continue doing my part to set the record straight concerning industry practices on all levels.
The rest is up to you.