Activist Watchdog Hannah Thompson-Weeman Exposes Extremists' Strategies, How to Fight ThemFri, 18 Jan 2019 14:16:38 CST
During the 100th Annual American Farm Bureau Convention that took place recently in New Orleans, Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays caught up with Hannah Thompson-Weeman, vice president of communications for the Animal Agriculture Alliance. At the conference, Thompson-Weeman workshopped with farmers and ranchers in attendance on animal rights activist behavior and strategies producers can implement to protect themselves and their operations from the activities of extremist groups. You can listen to their complete conversation by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below at the bottom of the page.
In speaking with Hays, one strategy in avoiding conflict with activists Thompson-Weeman says she often suggests to producers, is to build a relationship with local law enforcement agencies.
“It’s very important for farmers and ranchers to proactively develop a relationship with their local law enforcement agencies for several different reasons,” she said. “One, is that unfortunately, activist groups are very strategically trying to build relationships with law enforcement. You may not know that groups like HSUS (Humane Society of the United States) actually provide training on spotting and investigating animal cruelty and I think we would probably disagree with their definition of animal cruelty - given that they don’t believe we should have farms and raise animals for food at all.”
It’s very alarming to think, Thompson-Weeman says, what messages activists could be presenting police officers and others as they work surreptitiously to bond with these law enforcement officials. For this reason, she insists it is important for producers to provide their local officers with accurate information and to establish trust and familiarity. In addition, she says rural law enforcement agencies and their lack of experience with managing large demonstrations are being taken advantage of by activists - who are more and more organizing protests at farms in isolated rural locations to maximize their disruptive efforts.
Another issue that has grown increasingly problematic for producers, is activists gaining employment on farming or ranching operations under false pretenses in order to obtain incriminating video footage or photos for their own propaganda purposes. Furthermore, Thompson-Weeman says some emboldened activists are opting to skirt the hiring process to gain access to livestock facilities and are unlawfully trespassing and breaking in - putting themselves, others and livestock at risk.
“So, we need to have those conversations - let law enforcement know what could be going on and just be a resource on topics about animal agriculture,” Thompson-Weeman reiterated. “We continue to see these undercover campaigns against farms and the industry as a whole. That’s why legislators in several different states have tried to put together different pieces of legislation to try to put a layer of protection in for farmers.”
These proposed legislative measures have been met with challenges from opposing activist groups as they have arisen across the country. Thompson-Weeman says it will be interesting to see how these efforts hold up as things develop and what other solutions might be offered as producers seek to protect themselves from what she calls the “very real threat” of animal rights activists.
“We don’t want you to be paranoid, but we do need you to be vigilant,” she concluded.
Our Coverage of the 2019 American Farm Bureau Convention and Trade Show is powered by the Oklahoma Farm Bureau- proud to rural all 77 counties and dedicated to improving the Lives of Rural Oklahomans. Click here for the Ok Farm Bureau website to learn more about being a part of Farm Bureau family.
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