Animal agriculture is under a terrible assault by animal rightists. “You are depicted as cruel, abusers, anti-animal and enemies of decency and humane care,” said Wesley J. Smith, acclaimed author and senior fellow in human rights and bioethics at the Discovery Institute. “You are not dealing with people who want to reach accommodation with animal husbandry and its practices. We are not dealing with an animal welfare movement. Animal rights is not animal welfare.”

Smith, speaking at the 2010 Animal Agriculture Alliance meeting in Arlington, Va., is the author of the book A Rat is a Pig is a Dog is a Boy – the Human Cost of the Animal Rights Movement, and he spoke about the problematic effects on the human population when animals are elevated to a human-like status.

“Animal rights is not about better methods of animal husbandry,” he said. “Animal rights is an ideology. It’s a dogma and even a quasi-religion for some. It becomes impossible to sit down and work out a reasonable accommodation that will last. Their intent is not that you don’t keep chickens in battery cages, their intent is you have not pigs or chickens and there be no domesticated animals.

“They believe animal rights as opposed to animal welfare accept and embrace idea that what is done to an animal is same as done to a human being,” Smith added. “They believe cattle ranching is akin to human slavery and just as evil. They don’t think you have good intentions or ideals. They think you are evil.”

Animal rightists believe human beings and animals have equal moral value, he said. “If you are sentient, an animal, insect or fish, you have a right to not be property which would end animal husbandry.”

Smith noted PETA’s campaign several years ago targeted to college-age students that displayed photos from Auschwitz of inmates in bunks juxtaposed next to chickens in a cage. “The message was that it was the same evil,” he explained. “Any movement that can’t differentiate between animal husbandry and the worst evil done to humankind has no business discussing morality. They are not crazy. They have accepted a crazy belief system.”

Smith says it’s a misanthropic, anti-human view. “There is a great deal of self-loathing in the animal rights movement. The impact on humanity of preventing animal husbandry and domestication of animals would be very harmful.”

It’s been noted by many the astounding number of products in every day use that come from the by-products of animal production. These go beyond milk, meat and leather to include everyday products such as adhesives, cosmetics, lubricants, food ingredients, industrial products and a variety of medical products. “The efficient use of the cow is something most people aren’t aware of,” Smith said. “It’s impossible to live in today’s society without using non-human animals in everything we use. That is a powerful message and it is not getting out.”

In an era where everything is based in emotion, there has to be a way to show the adverse impact of suffering on humanity if there was an end to animal agriculture. “We must show the incredible benefit we receive from the proper and humane use of animals,” Smith said. “The intent of the animal rights movement is to destroy research, destroy herds and prevent all of us by law to eat meat, have medical research and some would also like an end to pets. It’s a subversive, anti-human movement and they don’t care about the human harm that will result.”

Animals as litigants?

Smith spoke about the current trend in some legal circles of lawyers wanting animals to be able to sue people directly. “This is a big item on the animal rights agenda. HSUS would like to bring the lawsuits on behalf of animals with intent to destroy your business.”

He said there have been lawsuits in the name of animals, but most are being thrown out. “Cass Sunstein, the President’s regulations czar, has written that he believes animals should be able to sue,” Smith said. “So has a Harvard law professor. It’s coming in the next 5-10 years.”

The animal rights movement has declared war on you, Smith said. “They seek to destroy your work and livelihoods. An attack on one of our groups should be deemed an attack on all. There is no point in sitting down and explaining our business to animal rightists -- they don’t care. We do a much better job explaining the great traditions of animal husbandry and care of animals and the tremendous human benefit that would be lost if activists get their way.”

You must be proud of what you do, Smith stated. “You bring good wholesome nutritious food to the masses. You have to be sure you maintain proper humane standards. Infiltrators will show anomalies are standard practice. You need to stand up for the person being attacked and start being proud of yourselves again. We are omnivores. Trying to push humankind into an unhealthy vegetarian lifestyle is bad for humankind.”