(US/ny) Improve image to fight activists, speaker says
- [Gillette News Record]
Farmers and ranchers will need to improve their public image if they
want their industry to survive assaults from animal rights activists.
To do it, they’ll need to put a face on their product other than that
of a cow, pig or chicken — the face of the hard-working American
rancher and his family.
“(The public) wants you to be able to look them in the eye and tell
them ‘I know what I’m doing and I’m doing it the best that I can,’”
said Steven L. Kopperud, keynote speaker of the Wyoming Cattle
Industry Convention. The three-day meeting opened Thursday at Cam-plex
Energy Hall in Gillette.
Kopperud is a senior vice president for Policy Directions Inc., a
government affairs company based in Washington, D.C. He specialized in
production, agriculture, animal health, food and agriculture research
and health issues. He coordinates the Farm Animal Welfare Coalition
and is an expert in activist assaults on agriculture.
He talked about the recent legal victories of animal rights
organizations in California and Massachusetts and how they could
trickle down to the rest of the nation. Most of the battles are in the
area of creating a better standard of living for animals by giving
them more room to move around.
Kopperud contended that animals in open environments would rather be
touching one another and are more prone to stress, which leads to
He addressed the laws that led to the closure of horse slaughter
plants in Texas and Illinois and the unintended consequences that
followed. Those consequences include the abandonment and neglect of
more than 110,000 horses in the United States, Kopperud said.
“Horse slaughter is the quintessential example of what happens when
you let idiots set policy,” he said.
Economics was another factor in his presentation. Vegetarians and
vegans account for about 3 percent of the population of the nation, he
He alluded to a story about a person who bought food at a Whole Foods
market in Washington, D.C., who he confronted with scientific facts
that the “organic” food sold at the store for a more expensive price
wasn’t better than the food bought at a local supermarket for a lower
price. The person replied, “It makes me feel better.”
Government and industry officials scramble to defend exposed pig farm cruelty
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