Images of an emaciated goat and the skull of a dead one swirled with emotive music and heart-tugging language. By the time we saw the owner of the goats handcuffed and being stuffed into the back of a police car, I was the only one in the room not applauding the actions of the interventionists.
“Why don’t they go and buy those animals rather than bursting onto a man’s property and making a show of it! They should just leave producers alone!” I exclaimed, concerned in the extreme.
My brother surprised me completely. Angrily, he retorted, “That’s just not right! Nobody should treat their animals like that.”
My brother is a good man. He is also a hard-working cattle man.
Sometimes my brother’s cattle get sick and skinny. Sometimes they die in the pasture.
He uses a horse almost every day. On the odd occasion, he has used corporal punishment on an obstinate equine-in-training.
He has cow dogs — some running loose, some penned up. One of them is an older bitch who is nothing but skin and bones. (I’ve also witnessed some dog training involving corporal punishment.)
I countered my kind brother with a variety of arguments:
- If those people have the right to do something in that man’s situation, what’s keeping them from coming onto your property?
- Animals are private property. If a person or group does not like the way animals are being treated, they should go to the owner and either buy the animal(s) or offer to help with feed/medical treatment.
- Non-productive people administering the law do not understand (or intentionally ignore) the difference between cruelty and simply what it takes to produce, or that sometimes, when we are busy producing, “stuff happens.”
- This reminds me of those border patrol or police shows in which “criminals” are presumed guilty and the audience applauds, thinking it can never happen to them.
Not until I gave my brother a real-life and close-to-home example of people just like him being prosecuted did he concede that I had a point.
Leading animal rights activists do not care about animal welfare. Their goal is stopping the use of animals altogether. They want an end to animal agriculture.
But they have the upper hand. Animal rights activists understand how to use producers’ own goodness and the fact that we truly DO care about our animals against us.
We agree to laws being written and enforced. In many cases, we (unwittingly) write the law ourselves through accreditation programs, codes of practice and guidelines. Then it’s an easy step for that to become the baseline for legislation and regulation.
The “caring” woman in the show said that her goal was to put herself out of a job.
Producers of eggs, milk, meat and other animal agriculture products must understand: Her goal will only be reached when activists succeed in stopping animals being used for any purpose.
I love ag. But most people who also love agriculture set themselves (and every other industry player) up for ultimate loss to the anti-production brigade. By good-heartedly abandoning a hard-line position on private property rights (thereby demonstrating his “reasonableness”), the average producer paves the way for his arch enemies to eviscerate him.