Here is a development that, although it’s occurring overseas, is only a matter of time before activists here in the USA decide to pursue.
In an unprecedented move, Israel’s Environmental Protection Ministry has pledged about $750,000 in state funds to be given directly to that country’s animal rights groups, according to Ynet.com news.
The funds will be distributed among 34 different groups, according to a news release from the ministry.
(And talk about biased reporting. The story continued as follows: “The majority of animal rights groups in Israel depend on donations for their operations, making state funds crucial.” Really? Aren’t all NGOs—non-governmental organizations—by definition dependent on private donations? Isn’t that the point of forming a group dedicated to causes that its donors willingly support?)
According to the story, the funds will be distributed through the ministry’s Animal Welfare Foundation. Although some of that budget will be supplemented by monetary fines imposed in animal abuse cases, it will be the first time government funds are diverted directly to animal rights groups.
“In a time when we are seeing a disconcerting rise in animal abuse cases, it is imperative that we support these groups, which are performing incredibly important services and caring for the helpless,” Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan told the news service.
More bad news
Even worse, Israel’s Ministerial Committee on Legislation voted in favor of giving the country’s Environmental Protection Ministry jurisdiction over enforcing the law, rather than the Agriculture Ministry. That opens the door to having regulators politically and philosophically disconnected from livestock producers in charge of handing out tax dollars to groups that would then use those funds to specifically target animal agriculture for practices they consider abusive.
Of course, that’s not how the supporters of this initiative are spinning it. They argue that this newly designated windfall would support certain causes that currently are off the public’s radar.True enough. Here’s one program spotlighted in the story that was new to me: An animal blood bank.
“Cat and dog owners were invited to a special blood drive last week—Israel’s first human/pet blood drive meant to boost blood banks in both human and pet hospitals,” according to news reports. “A special pet blood drive project was initiated by the Beit Dagan Veterinary Hospital and Magen David Adom emergency services saw crews take blood donations from pet owners, while the veterinary hospital’s team, headed by Dr. Eran Siton, did the same with the pets.”
Not saying such efforts aren’t necessary and valuable. In fact, a strong case could be made for at least partial government support to expand such efforts. Virtually every jurisdiction in the United States has some sort of animal control agency that is tasked with population control and management of feral and stray animals. Arguably, setting up a pet blood bank that could be utilized if stray or rescued animals needed some sort of surgery before adoption would be a logical extension of such an agency’s mission.
But you can bet that the 34 activist groups receiving funding aren’t all going to be investing in pet blood drives. For the most part—as is true in virtually every developed country these days—their focus is going to be on promoting those causes that bring in the bucks: animal exploitation, puppy mills and the biggie, factory farming.
In the end, if similar legislation were to be enacted in the United States, it would result in taxpayers funding the efforts of PETA, HSUS and other allied activist groups dedicated to extinguishing livestock production in the name of animal rights and ecological protection.
No matter what your philosophy of governance, liberal or conservative, such a blatant diversion of public monies to private causes would be a terrible development.
If (and when) activists collect sufficient funding to pursue their goals, God speed. That’s the way our society functions.
But handing over public funding to groups whose ambitions are to destroy an important—indeed, essential—industry?
Wrong on so many levels.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Dan Murphy, a veteran food-industry journalist and commentator.