The Animal Agriculture Alliance, a non-profit organization that monitors activist attacks on agriculture, has officially designated five new organizations as animal rights extremists. Among the groups listed are the Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) and Farm Action.
The designation was made as part of the alliance’s annual report, which revealed that animal rights groups are bringing in over $800 million annually, often through misleading advertisements that claim donations will benefit pets when in reality those contributions are funding attacks on livestock producers.
“No matter the animal rights extremist group or the tactics used, they all share the same goal of eliminating animal agriculture and taking meat, dairy, poultry, eggs, and seafood off of our grocery store shelves and family tables,” said Abby Kornegay, Animal Agriculture Alliance’s manager of issues and engagement. “These reports succinctly detail those true intentions, the strategic efforts of the animal rights movement to further their agenda, and key tactics for the animal agriculture community to be aware of.”
OCM and Farm Action are two particularly deceiving organizations that frequently lobby against cattle producers and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) members. Both groups have ties to the Humane Society of the United States. According to the Animal Agriculture Alliance, OCM was added to the list of activist groups because of Marty Irby’s involvement as a board member. Irby is a former employee of HSUS and has ties to former HSUS President and CEO Wayne Pacelle. Farm Action has also shared employees with both HSUS and OCM, with Farm Action co-founder Joe Maxwell previously serving as a leader in OCM.
Both OCM and Farm Action have recently attacked the cattle industry by pushing the deceptively named “Opportunities for Fairness in Farming” or OFF Act. Proponents of the OFF Act claim that the bill increases transparency and oversight of commodity checkoff programs, however the legislation is a sneaky way for activists to reduce producer oversight of checkoffs and ultimately harm the effectiveness of these programs.
Several components of the OFF Act duplicate existing law. For example, the bill would require audits of checkoff funds (which already occurs with these audits being posted on the Cattlemen’s Beef Board website), prohibit checkoffs from disparaging other commodities (already federal law), and prohibit checkoff dollars from being used to lobby (already federal law). One key change in the bill is a provision preventing checkoff boards from contracting with any organization that also hires lobbyists. This provision would prevent groups like NCBA, the American Farm Bureau Federation, land-grant universities, and many research institutions from contracting with the Beef Checkoff, harming the producer-direction of checkoff programs.
These organizations are also lobbying against the Ending Agricultural Trade Suppression (EATS) Act. The EATS Act was introduced by Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS) and Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-IA) following the Supreme Court’s decision on California’s Proposition 12.
“In their decision in National Pork Producers Council v. Ross, the Supreme Court issued a troubling decision that allows states to restrict agricultural production practices across the country,” said NCBA Chief Counsel Mary-Thomas Hart. “Although this case was specific to the pork industry, without action from Congress, the door is wide open for states to start passing all sorts of new regulations that could impact cattle production practices, target feedlots, and create a confusing patchwork of state laws that hampers interstate commerce.”
In pushing for the EATS Act, animal rights organizations are following a familiar strategy of attempting to make livestock production increasingly hard. Without legislation like the EATS Act in place, individual states could pass a whole host of politically motivated agricultural rules that close key markets, make livestock production increasingly difficult, and drive up the cost of food as a result.
The listing of OCM and Farm Action as radical animal rights organizations is the first step to ensuring that policymakers understand who is truly behind the misleading attacks on the cattle industry. For more information on the Animal Agriculture Alliance’s work, please visit animalagalliance.org.
Source: National Cattlemen’s Beef Association