My six-year-old daughter, Zoey, is an overachiever. While other kids her age are whining about going back to school, she’s already vocally opposing the mere thought of snow returning to the forecast. I explained how snow, while inconvenient, can actually be good.
"Mom, I know why you said we needed the snow,” she said. “Because snow melts into water, and the grass and crops need the water.”
With a very serious look on her face, she added, “You know our other big problem? General Grievous."
Yes, that would be General Grievous, one of the villains featured in “Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.” Even though she has yet to see the movie, General Grievous is very real and very terrifying thanks to her “Star Wars-“obsessed older brother.
We have a General Grievous threatening our own industry – animal rights advocates.
More than 90 percent of the general public are generations removed from farming, so it should be no surprise that these consumers generally consider groups like the Humane Society of the United States harmless or even helpful.
If only that were true.
Just a few weeks ago, HSUS President and CEO Wayne Pacelle came out with his proverbial light sabers swinging against all of animal agriculture.
“Our society is raising so many of those animals harshly and inhumanely,” he wrote. “Within the last 50 years, agriculture has become thoroughly industrialized, with the forced migration of animals from pastures and into windowless, overcrowded, stinking, ammonia-laden buildings. In some cases, factory farms immobilize the animals in small metal cages and crates barely larger than their bodies. They cut off parts of the animals’ bodies as routine management practices.”
Of course, he didn’t stop there. To those who choose to trust and believe the HSUS deception, it’s clear – you are the enemy. As producers, as those working within the animal agriculture industry day in and day out, you are the villain. You are the abusers who need to be found out and punished. YOU are the problem.
And there’s a lot more than the industry’s reputation at stake here.
Don’t forget: public perception has an incredibly strong influence on today’s agricultural policies and industry standards. It’s unlikely that the country will ever become a vegetarian or vegan society, but it is becoming more and more likely that these public concerns, stoked by the fear-mongering animal rights activists, have the potential to drive changes that would have lasting effects on the industry.
It’s time to channel our own inner Obi Wans to face off with a villain that isn’t impossible to defeat. It’s time to take back the high ground in this battle.
An upcoming commentary will spotlight people who are effectively engaged in that battle.