Yet another undercover animal abuse video rolled out last week, filmed months ago by animal rights “activists,” and released just as tweets and photos celebrating June as Dairy Month began.
In the same week, mainstream media published several stories following up on what many farmers had brought forward at the Standing Committee on Agriculture: that online bullying needs to carry a much more severe punishment and possibly be criminalized.
I don’t know that I fully understand what criminalizing online bullying would mean, but I’ll say this: it most definitely needs discussion at the highest levels and more attention must be brought to the incredible stress and strain being vilified for raising food carries. If we’re serious, as a country and industry, about farmer mental wellness and protecting our mental health, every single Canadian needs to know what animal rights extremists are doing and the very real fallout of it.
There’s danger, too, in the “rescue” and “sanctuary” worlds. While most agree that if someone wants to raise animals purely to live out their lives as pets, that’s their prerogative, but raising livestock is not without responsibility. Yes, there’s the responsibility of caring for the animals, but there is a responsibility to other livestock, the farmers who raise them as their livelihood, and our food system.
Last week, we learned of a Manitoba rescue farm that had tested positive for a reportable, infectious, serious disease of poultry. The first and most effective reaction for containment is to cull and disinfect everything. A farm representative states that culling is “not an option” for them — predicated, I can assume, on their “love” for these birds and their goal of “protecting” them.
But what about the thousands of other birds that keeping this flock alive threatens? It’s arrogant, reckless, and irresponsible to not cull. What kind of animal lover are you that you’d knowingly put thousands of birds’ lives at risk? I suspect that part of the reason is that this farm, a so-called sanctuary, likely doesn’t value the lives of the commercially-raised hens nearby. Seems counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? Disingenuous, even. Maybe down-right two-faced.
What’s key, I think, is that we distinguish between activism (which is good!) and extremism (never good). Farmers have been activists for their industry and way of life, and now are being pressured to advocate for their own protection (within existing laws, thank you very much) and health. Activism is key for change. Call it lobbying, if you’d prefer, or advocating. But extremism — in all forms — is negative and often dangerous. Extremists have no middle ground — there is no compromise. The animal rights “activists” entering farms and harassing farmers on line are not activists at all, but extremists, and should be called out and held accountable for their actions. The health of our farmers depends on it.