By now you shouldn't need another reminder that the animal welfare and animal rights groups have targeted U.S. animal agriculture. Or it shouldn't surprise you that they are well-funded and show an incredible amount of patience. The passage of Proposition 2 in California last November speaks volumes about the effectiveness and staying power of these groups. This was the voter ballot initiative that essentially says that by 2015, animals must have enough room to stand and stretch without touching another animal. In effect, experts believe it will end the poultry industry as we know it in California, and could impact the hog industry there as well.
Campaigns by two key groups, PETA and the Humane Society of the U.S. were credited with helping stir up human emotions to the point of frenzy. Advertisements appealing to emotions, and ignoring science, become too much for agriculture to tell its message effectively.
Now comes word that some of these same groups are using another equally frightening tactic to sway opinion amongst the most vulnerable targets- young people. The less-than-20 year-old generation has had less exposure to animal agriculture than perhaps any other. So their actual knowledge of family farming, changes over the years, and production agriculture is extremely limited.
Jane Ade Stevens, editor of the Indiana Livestock News, published exclusively on the Web as a weekly email for those interested in GINA- Growing Indiana agriculture, recently made a startling discovery about Facebook. It's the new Internet tool kids are using heavily, perhaps more heavily than simple email. The interactive concept is used so that kids can talk to their friends.
Ade Stevens discovered that animal rights is a big issue on Facebook across the country. And it's clear which side of the coin many young people are exploring. Based on information she released last week, something called Animal Rights Watch claimed 276,208 fans. The Humane Society site garnered 61,452 fans, and PETA, people for the ethical treatment of animals, had 168,969 fans.
Contrast that to the paltry 3,932 fans for something called 'Protect Agriculture- Stop the Humane Society of the United States, or HSUS. Keegan Poe, a regional rep for Indiana Farm Bureau, Inc., has identified HSUS as one of the major players in stirring up public opinion against animal agriculture.
Ade Stevens urges those of you in favor of ag to sign up for Facebook and not leave it to the youngsters. You can sign up for a Facebook site at: tinyurl.com/cnc8ah.