It all started with an innocent comment on a Facebook post in a local community group. A young woman was looking for a place in town to start an animal rescue. I politely told her that city and county laws dictate that one must own at least 10 acres to house livestock. The original poster was outraged that these regulations existed. I explained that they are there to protect not only the animals but also the environment. Housing animals in close quarters on a small plot of land is not good. Then I looked at the poster’s FB profile…
A few weeks later
That innocent conversation on Facebook turned into identifying myself as someone against an animal rights advocate who wanted to rescue animals within city limits, no matter what the law is. Not going to lie, when I first learned that our farm was being targeted by a local animal rights group I felt fear. I have worked in agriculture communications for almost 15 years. I have been trained over and over on how to handle extreme animal rights groups. I know the worst case scenarios. Some animal rights groups are identified by the FBI as terrorists. Burning down buildings, cutting fences, freeing animals, even bombing places are all tactics they use. Even if the group isn’t at a terrorist level, their goals are the same, “disruption.”
On our farm, we strive each and every day to provide the best care for our animals. By respecting their lives, we respect their death. I am not going to gloss over the fact that we do raise animals to eventually consume their meat, milk or eggs. For us, it is a circle of life. One day we too will die and our bodies will decompose in the ground. I hope that I am fortunate enough to fertilize the ground which cattle graze on. Our animals and us live for one another.
Preparing for the protest
Eventually, my fear faded, though it never goes away. This group was planning on protesting our farm the Friday before Christmas. In preparation, we contacted our local sheriff to inform them of the event. The sheriff’s department was very helpful in explaining trespassing laws. I worked with them to develop a plan so that the protesters could be safe and that our animals remained safe. We talked about how to keep the protesters safe on our busy county road. We talked about alternative places that the protesters could go if their crowd was large. The sheriff’s department offered extra patrol of our road that day. I made arrangements for my children to spend the night with my parents out-of-town. While I didn’t expect things to become violent, I didn’t want my children to be a part of any conflicts. We informed our milk truck driver and employees of the event and how to make sure everyone stayed safe. I was doing more work to make sure the animal rights protesters had a successful event. ha!
The First Amendment is a serious thing. It is very important that our rights under the USA Constitution are upheld. While I don’t agree with every protest, I do agree that every US citizen has the right to protest for their causes. This includes the animal rights group. They have every right to stand on our road protesting what our farm does. I don’t agree with them, but they have rights protected under our Constitution and I honor that.
The day came for the event, and no one showed up. Honestly, I was slightly disappointed. We had planned to bring them coffee, sans creamer of course. The day was bitterly cold. Maybe that kept them away. I later found out that the organizer has a severe heart condition. Maybe that kept her away. I hope that she is well and I have no ill feelings toward her. Instead, on that day I wrapped Christmas presents, make last-minute holiday food preparations and cared for our animals.
I am sure this isn’t the last time our farm will be a target for such groups. The organizer lives in our town and from what I found out, her family just bought a house this past summer. They probably aren’t moving soon. Our community is full of hardworking farm families who have been here for generations. You can walk the Saint Nicholas Catholic Church cemetery and find the same last names that farm here today. Our farming ancestors built this town. As new families move in, familiar names may fade, but our dedication to this land and our animals haven’t.
Prior to the event date, we had a meeting with other local farm families at our house. With an animal rights organizer living in our town, how will our lives change? The answer is not much will change. We will make sure to have No Trespassing signs up and be extra vigilant about who enters our properties, but the farmers in our community are some of the best. Caring for our animals is what we do every single day of the year.
We have always run our farm with an open door policy. We are happy to show customers around and we give many formal tours a year. I try to keep our Facebook page a place to share what is happening on the farm as well as dialogue. If you ever have any questions, please feel free to contact us via email, phone, or even on social media.
PS I don’t wish to make this a place for unkindness and insults. Please don’t use our comment section as such. Thank You! Peace!