Animal Ag Alliance Reports on HSUS ‘Animal Rights’ Conference
“If you don’t tell your story, someone else will.” Farmers have heard this over and over again, but there is so much truth to it. Another great example recently occurred at the Taking Action for Animals (TAFA) conference, held virtually September 19-20. The event featured speakers from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), Humane Society International and Humane Society Legislative Fund, all organizations with negative views on animal husbandry and meat consumption. The Animal Agriculture Alliance today released a report with observations and takeaways for the animal agriculture community.
The conference mainly highlighted the need for action and highlighted what animal rights groups see as victories in recent years to protect wildlife, farm, sea, pets, etc. Speakers highlighted the importance of behind-the-scenes advocacy to change and bring forward “animal friendly” legislation at different levels of government.
“HSUS intentionally strives to position itself as an animal welfare organization, but their story of advocating for legislation and sourcing policies that impede our ability to raise animals for food tells a different story” said Hannah Thompson-Weeman, vice president of communications at the Animal Agriculture Alliance. “The remarks made by the speakers at the recent conference clearly outline the true aims and purposes of this organization, of which everyone in the animal agriculture and food industry should be aware.”
Animal rights groups have repeatedly tried to capitalize on the current pandemic to spread their anti-animal agriculture agenda by claiming that livestock will be the cause of the next pandemic, and this rhetoric was underscored at the conference. TAFA. “Factory farms poison our environment. Factory farms also create serious public health risks,” said Adam Zipkin, attorney for U.S. Senator Cory Booker. Zipkin added: “Scientists tell us, unequivocally, that the next pandemic is at least as likely to start on a factory farm here in the United States as it is on a live wildlife market in another country.” He attributed the claim to “the widespread use of antibiotics on factory farms” and the fact that these farms are “a breeding ground for viruses such as influenza that can easily jump from farm animals to humans.”
In a later session, speakers argued that the way to prevent future pandemics was to end animal confinement and switch to plant-based diets. Josh Balk, vice president of farm animal welfare at HSUS, said, “The number one risk is from increased meat, egg and dairy consumption. The second is farm animal intensification, or in other words, caging farm animals into smaller and smaller enclosures. In a later session, Balk said, “We’re also passing laws to outlaw these practices in the state, making them criminal abuses that, if done, aren’t just frowned upon or ‘hey. , that’s a bad thing” – no, it will be criminal activity.
Another key theme of the conference was the claim that animal agriculture is a major contributor to climate change. “Reputable scientific sources continue to warn us that eating more plant-based foods must happen quickly to ensure the sustainability of our planet,” said Kari Nienstedt, Senior Director of Advisory and Engagement at HSUS. Nienstedt added that in addition to promoting alternatives to meat, HSUS and other animal rights groups “are working with the nation’s largest food companies to get them to demand that their suppliers of eggs and meat also eliminate cages”.
A theme that transcended most of the conference sessions was how to effectively adopt “animal-friendly” policies. “Your goal is to become one of the go-to people in your legislator’s district who they will go to when they have a question about animal welfare,” said Carol Misseldine, senior director of outreach and commitment to HSUS.
The Act for Animals 2020 conference report, which includes personal accounts of speaker presentations and general observations, is available for Alliance members in the Resource Library on the Alliance website. The Alliance also has reports from previous animal rights conferences available to members on its website.