Responding to activist threats


Rachel Gabel, The Fence Post (CO)

Oct 8, 2021


Hannah Thompson-Weeman, vice president of strategic engagement for Animal Agriculture Alliance was the first speaker in the Colorado Livestock Association’s seven-part virtual meeting series.


Thompson-Weeman said responding to activist threats is one of the key actions to take in securing the future of your operation as well as protecting the reputation of the livestock industry. She said there is no shortage of opportunities to set straight the record when it comes to false narratives and accusations aimed at the livestock industry.


When the Animal Agriculture Alliance was established in 1987, it was partially in response to the growing need for defending the industry against activist action, even then. She did, however, say vegetarians and vegans make up about 5% of the U.S. population, a number that has been steady for decades. The percentage of those self-proclaimed vegetarians and vegans who are extremist activists is even lower. The majority of Americans fall somewhere between the portion of the population with a direct connection to animal agriculture and the small percentage of the population that believes animal agriculture ought not exist.


“Because (so many people) don’t have a direct connection to agriculture, activists are trying to fill in that blank with a version of what we do that none of us here would agree is accurate or depicts what we’re up to,” she said.


This is the same reason, she said, activists don’t present a full-fledged and upfront “go vegan” agenda, but rather capitalize on the public’s disconnect with animal agriculture to make agriculture appear nefarious. In addition to targeting end consumers, activist groups are targeting investors, policy makers, corporations, influential organizations, media, restaurants and food service brands are pressured with disinformation.


“The Alliance has group profiles on more than 175 different organizations that are targeting animal agriculture in one way or another,” she said. The groups are often connected to one another and are well-funded.