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Animal ag group: Activists vilified livestock producers
By SARAH B. AUBREY
Indiana Correspondent

ARLINGTON, Va. — The Animal Agriculture Alliance, an industry group that works to communicate animal ag’s value and role in the economy to the general public, is attempting to fight animal rights activists who led the fight during a crucial vote in Arizona last month.

Arizona voters, by a 61.5 percent to 38.5 percent result, passed Proposition 204 - a measure prohibiting the use of sow gestation crates and veal crates for calves in the state. Proposition 204 was on Arizona’s Nov. 7 ballot. With its approval, the common animal husbandry practice of veal crates and sow gestation crates will be outlawed as of Dec. 31, 2012.

“In general we’re disappointed that the passing of Proposition 204 now outlaws a husbandry practice that has been deemed appropriate by producers, vets and universities for years,” said Mike Platt, executive director of the Indiana Pork Producers Assoc. (IPPA) in a reaction to Arizona voter’s direction. “It’s also regrettable that animal rights activist groups vilified producers who treat their animals humanely in the consumer’s eyes.”

The Alliance clams Arizona voters were “misled by multi-million dollar campaign of misdirection.” The Alliance goes on to estimate the negative impact on Arizona’s economy will be significant because half of the $9 billion dollars that agriculture generates in that state comes from animal agriculture.

Platt, too, sees the vote in favor of Proposition 204 as a direct result of animal rights activists and their campaigns to damage the agriculture industry. Groups involved in this bill include the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the Global Resource Action Center for the Environment (GRACE).

Platt said the HSUS is not to be confused with local humane societies that adopt domestic animals like cats and dogs. The HSUS and GRACE both contributed up to $800,000.

“The Humane Society of the United States, as one of its stated goals, is to remove meat from the food chain,” Platt said citing a quote he’d seen published by the U.S. Coordinator of the Society, John Goodwin.

Goodwin’s quote actually is, “Our goal is the abolition of all animal agriculture.”

Platt added, “I think this is alarming not just to producers, but to most people. We have to remember that these groups have an activist mentality; the majority of Americans choose to eat meat.”

Platt said that IPPA is working hard to stay vigilant for concerns like this in Indiana, especially by staying involved with groups such as the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), based in Des Moines, Iowa, and Indiana’s voluntary arm of that group, the Indiana Pork Advocacy Council. Still, he does not see problems such as Proposition 204 coming to the forefront in Indiana any time soon.

“Consumers these days are two generations removed from the farm and that can cause them to be swayed by incorrect information,” he began. “Arizona is also the most urban state demographically in the country. When you look at Proposition 204 in that context where so many people are not connected to agriculture, you can see how something like that might happen,” he added saying also that he feels the population in the Midwest and Indiana sees animal agriculture much more favorably.

“We have to work to remind consumers that those who spend their time working with animals (such as farmers, vets, etc) are the ones who best understand animal husbandry, not people who have never touched an animal before,” said Platt.

This farm news was published in the Dec. 6, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.

12/6/2006