National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) President Bill Donald said the alleged animal rights extremist attacks on Harris Ranch in Coalinga, is an example of extremists showing a disregard for property and lives. While law enforcement has not confirmed who was responsible for the attacks, the North American Animal Liberation Press Office, publicly released information on Jan. 9, 2012, that included correspondence from the group reportedly claiming responsibility.
"This is not only an attack on a family-owned and operated business; this is a domestic terrorist attack on our nation's providers of food and fiber," said Donald. "This extremist behavior goes above mere activism and the freedom of speech. These criminals are threatening lives and causing substantial economic harm."
The California Farm Bureau Federation said the arrest and prosecution of those responsible must be a high priority.
"The terrorists who attacked a beef production company in California this week must be arrested and prosecuted to the full extent of the law," California Farm Bureau President Paul Wenger said. "We know the local authorities are working hard to find the attackers and we offer our full support."
Wenger also said animal-welfare groups should become involved in helping to resolve the case.
The attack took place before dawn on Sun., Jan 9, 2012. Fourteen tractor trailers were engulfed in flames and several other pieces of farm equipment were also damaged. No people or animals were reported hurt during the attack. Donald said those responsible for this attack are not at all concerned about the safety of livestock. "Anyone concerned about the welfare of animals would not orchestrate attacks on individuals who are experts at caring for these creatures," said Donald. "Ranchers are undoubtedly the very best caretakers of livestock. Cattlemen and women implement the highest animal handling and food safety standards designed by veterinarians, animal behavioral experts and researchers."
Reports indicate that law enforcement will likely hold a press conference next week. Donald said he in encouraged by the swift action of California and federal investigators and looks forward to seeing those guilty of this "heinous" crime prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. "These extreme attacks are nothing more than bad people doing bad things and they must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, just as any other criminal would be in this country," said Donald.
He said NCBA strongly condemns any and all attacks against farming and ranching operations.
"As a rancher, a father and a proud grandfather, I feel for the families impacted by this senseless attack. As president of the leading national cattle organization, I applaud my fellow cattlemen for their efforts to provide the safest and highest quality beef to consumers in the United States.