New year, same activist tactics
It may be new year, but we at the Animal Agriculture Alliance are expecting business as usual from animal rights activists. They are likely to protest at any venue where they can garner attention and anywhere animals are present — farms, ranches, processing plants, fairs, expos and even truck stops. Here are a few pieces of advice to help those working in animal agriculture prepare.
Do not engage. Whether you encounter a protester at an event or on a farm or if an activist approaches a truck transporting animals at a truck stop, it is always best to ignore them and immediately contact law enforcement. Keep your cool and always assume you are being recorded or live-streamed online in your interaction, regardless of what you are told or whether a camera is visible. In one incident, the activists falsely claimed they were not recording the conversation at a poultry plant as they were live-streaming on Facebook.
Make sure employees at every level know how to handle unexpected and unauthorized visitors. Activists often approach farm or plant employees first when arriving at a facility. In one instance, activists entered a dairy processing plant office and demanded the receptionist tell them where the dairy farms producing for that plant are located. In another situation, a woman brought a young child to the gate of a plant and pleaded to be let in for the child to use the restroom. Once they were inside, she began running around taking photos and trying to access secure areas. One group has started demanding for animals to be released to them from farms, emboldened by a police officer who let them take one chicken in an October protest and a farm who gave them 100 animals in November. While it may be tempting to try to get the group to leave by allowing them to take an animal, it is vitally important we do not give in to their demands. Giving the group an animal significantly weakens our attempts to convey why their actions are unacceptable. Negotiating with an organization who wants to see animal liberation and the end of animal agriculture will not be productive.
Proactively build relationships with law enforcement and first responders in your community. Let your local police department know about the protests targeting animal agriculture across the country and get advice from them on preparing.
Like most things, it’s best to be prepared. If you haven’t done so already, use the new year as an opportunity to update or create your crisis plan. The alliance has more in-depth resources for alliance members in our online resource library as well as information available to anyone about animal rights activism at AnimalAgAlliance.org/Protect. ❖