Weeding through the anti-ag agendas | TSLN.com

Weeding through the anti-ag agendas

Traci Eatherton
for Tri-State Livestock News

Radical activist groups, some with very deep pockets and huge backers, are waging a war against agriculture, leading the charge to grant animals the same legal rights as humans, eliminate the consumption and even ownership of animals, and even trying to control production farming through legislation. They often pose as "do-gooders" with a different agenda. While the most notable example is the Humane Society of the United States, with a $130 million budget, and sad puppy television commercials, there are many more with equally disturbing anti-ag agendas.

The Center for Organizational Research and Education (CORE) has analyzed articles, statements and government documents to come up with a database of these groups with shady agendas. They are tax-exempt nonprofits, promoting false science and scare tactics, with some even going as far as breaking the law, and most have a vegan mission.

The Animal Agriculture Alliance is another group that monitors the activities of these anti-ag groups and proactively engages in the same areas they target to correct misinformation and tell the true story of agriculture.

"Consumer demand is powerful. It can be the champion of a company's success or the culprit of their failure. What I find even more interesting is how consumer demand is defined. Does a group of people with no intention of ever buying a restaurant's product qualify as their consumer? With the avalanche of recent restaurant and retail pledges caving to pressure from animal rights organizations, it seems so," blogged Casey Whitaker, the groups Communications Coordinator.

“Consumer demand is powerful. It can be the champion of a company’s success or the culprit of their failure. What I find even more interesting is how consumer demand is defined. Does a group of people with no intention of ever buying a restaurant’s product qualify as their consumer? With the avalanche of recent restaurant and retail pledges caving to pressure from animal rights organizations, it seems so. Casey Whitaker, Animal Agriculture Alliance communications coordinator

At the Animal Agriculture Alliance's recent Stakeholders Summit, speakers offered insights about consumer demand — suggesting consumers aren't the ones demanding restaurants and grocery stores to change their supply chain policies at all. Dr. Dan Thomson of Kansas State University stated, "activists today are masquerading as the consumers."

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So how do we weed out the top anti-ag contenders and who are they? Knowledge has always been a key to power, so here are a few to keep an eye on.

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PRCM): This group filed two lawsuits in April, targeting California's school lunch program, for serving hot dogs, bacon, bologna, and all other processed meats. "The World Health Organization recently released a report announcing that processed meats are "carcinogenic to humans," the group wrote in a press release. PRCM, with an anti-meat/dairy agenda, is tied to a number of other organizations, including PETA and the Animal Liberation Front.

"The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a wolf in sheep's clothing. PCRM is a fanatical animal rights group that seeks to remove eggs, milk, meat, and seafood from the American diet, and to eliminate the use of animals in scientific research. Despite its operational and financial ties to other animal activist groups and its close relationship with violent zealots, PCRM has successfully duped the media and much of the general public into believing that its pronouncements about the superiority of vegetarian-only diets represent the opinion of the medical community," Newsweek wrote in an article in February 2004, and at that time, according to reports, the group had less than 5 percent of its members as physicians. The group boosts a .org website, and last reported annual income of $14,565,92. How's that for "nonprofit?"

Waterkeeper Alliance: This groups' recent lawsuit against producers with confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs), http://www.tsln.com/news/asdasda-126/, set the stage for this article. The lawsuit they brought against CAFOs has the potential to wreak havoc on small producers. With its latest annual income reported at $10,389,790, and big backers, including Toyota, ironically, the group has the deep pockets it claims to be saving its members from.

"Proposed bill H.R. 1179 [Discouraging Frivolous Lawsuit Act] would make it so that anytime someone brings a citizen suit and loses the case for any reason (including procedural mistakes or technicalities), they are required to pay the legal costs of the defendant. Considering that illegal polluters are often companies with deep pockets that can afford to hire expensive law firms, their massive legal costs can be high enough to bankrupt an individual or nonprofit. If H.R. 1179 becomes law, individuals and nonprofits would risk financial ruin anytime they want to take an illegal polluter to court," the group writes in a press release.

With Robert F. Kennedy Jr., at the helm, the group is really a "coalition of more than 160 watch programs for America's rivers, bays, and shorelines, but this is thin political cover for trial lawyers who see big-money payouts from ruining families who have farmed for generations," according to CORE. The group is also credited for teaming up with another group and promoting the misinformation that childhood vaccines cause autism.

HSUS: By far the world's largest animal rights nonprofit, this group fights from the top down, with legislative change for animals. They were also behind the "Meatless Monday" campaign, touted as a health call. "HSUS is big, rich and powerful. While most local animal shelters are under-funded and unsung, HSUS has accumulated $195 million in assets and built a recognizable brand by capitalizing on the confusion its very name provokes," CORE points out.

Center for Food Safety (CFS): This group, considering its name, should be valuable in agriculture. At least one would think, right? Think again. CFS is a "nonprofit litigating and regulatory advocacy organization founded in 1997 to oppose industrial agriculture and food production technologies including genetically modified plants and organisms," according to reports, and has started and backed a number of lawsuits, against both individuals, businesses, and administrations. Its most recent victory against the EPA involved pesticides. A federal judge ruled that the agency violated the Endangered Species Act by registering the products without the proper consultation, according to CFS attorney George Kimbrell. The four-year case ended with a California judge saying the EPA had unlawfully issued 59 pesticide registrations between 2007 and 2012 for a wide variety of agricultural, landscaping and ornamental uses.

CFS also sponsors the "Keep Nature Natural" campaign, a national initiative to flood the Food and Drug Administration with comments asking for stricter regulation of GE foods. Other sponsors of this project include Chefs Collaborative, Friends of the Earth, the Organic Consumers Association, and organic marketers Whole Foods Market and Eden Foods. The nonprofit's last annual income reported was $5,720,841.

Farm Sanctuary: "In an ideal world, there would be no need for Farm Sanctuary as it exists today. There would be no factory farms or stockyards. Cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, and sheep would be free to roam in their pastures, sleep in the sun, scratch at the earth, and enjoy life," according to the group's website. With the most recent income info posted on Guidestar.org, at $15,715,377, and assets at, $25,176,751, and an annual budget at, $7,594,590, it's not surprising that this group has no problem taking on production agriculture and setting up their farm sanctuaries throughout the U.S.

Food & Water Watch: Founded for what appears to be all the right reasons, the belief that "people have a fundamental right to trust the safety of the products they eat and drink," the group took a left turn somewhere along the way, and is more focused on an anti-ag agenda, including ousting Monsanto, fracking, GMOs, and "factory farms." With the latest tax reported income at $17,733,727, and assets at $9,409,199, the group may have a head start.

"Food & Water Watch is one of the foremost activist groups spreading misinformation and ignoring the scientific consensus regarding genetically modified foods (GMOs). Food & Water Watch claims that GMOs place "human and environmental health at risk" despite scientific consensus that GMOs are safe," CORE writes.

Western Watersheds: This group takes pride in its anti-grazing stance, and is often the lead on lawsuits plaguing agriculture. "Western Watersheds Project is a nonprofit environmental conservation group with 1,500 members founded in 1993 and has field offices in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Arizona, California, and Oregon. WWP works to influence and improve public lands management throughout the West with a primary focus on the negative impacts of livestock grazing on 250 million acres of western public lands, including harm to ecological, biological, cultural, historic, archeological, scenic resources, wilderness values, roadless areas, Wilderness Study Areas and designated Wilderness," the group boosts on its website.

The last reported financial stats for this group included, income of $753,782 and assets of $296,909. The group works closely with a number of other anti-ag groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity and WildEarth Guardians. These groups are currently taking on Idaho, in an attempt to stop what they call an "unscientific slaughter" of predators and are also busy taking on private property rights, claiming that they have rights to test for E. coli and should be allowed to cross private lands for these samples.

This is just a small sample of a number of non-profit activist groups after agriculture. For more information, go to http://www.animalagalliance.org, http://www.activistfacts.com or http://www.coreprojects.com. F

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