Dealing with Animal Welfare Groups: It's Time to Get Proactive

Prairie Gleanings

Animal ag is under attack. It's time to circle the wagons.

Published on: June 23, 2009

During today's Illinois Agricultural Legislative Roundtable session, representatives from the state's major animal ag groups gave a fairly glum status report.


In a nutshell: 1. Pork producers are entering 20 months of losses. 2. Milk producers are getting half the price for milk they were a year ago. 3. Beef producers saw prices tank with the economy. 4. Lastly, each of the groups are concerned about attacks from animal welfare groups.


Mark Gebhards, Illinois Farm Bureau executive director, says the Illinois ag community was lucky to have recently faced down so many animal welfare bills, namely the banning of tail docking and gestation crates. "I think we've been extremely lucky that things turned out as well as they did," he adds.


However, Gebhards says we haven't heard the last from the animal activists. In his opinion, ag has been "playing not to lose." This type of strategy almost always leads to a loss, he notes. "If we're not being proactive, we're not going to win the game," Gebhards concludes.


I agree with Gebhards. We need to get out there and champion animal ag. Because one thing was clear at today's roundtable, this issue affects all of us in ag.


Through the Illinois Beef Association, I recently obtained my Masters in Beef Advocacy. After six online courses, participants are well versed in how to discuss beef production with consumers, media, interest groups, etc.


The IALR is hosted periodically by the Illinois Farm Bureau. The purpose is to bring the state's ag community together to discuss current major issues and how these issues are playing out on a state and federal level. Today's IALR was held at the Governor's Mansion in Springfield.

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