Five Nebraska farm groups are taking another step forward in preparation for future battles with animal rights activists.
Nebraska Cattlemen, Nebraska Farm Bureau, Nebraska Pork Producers, Nebraska Poultry Industries and the Nebraska State Dairy Association have formed a new coalition called “We Support Agriculture” (WSA).
Nebraska Cattlemen spokesman Pete McClymont says the coalition’s goal is to educate the general public on the value of agriculture.
“The value of livestock, the value of what it means to our state—and to have they fully educated, as much as possible, on what animal rights groups are doing out there,” McClymont says, “and have them not accept those messages, but find out more from us how we do things in agriculture.”
There has been speculation that the Humane Society of the United States will, at some point, pursue an animal care ballot initiative in Nebraska. “No, we don’t have any indication of anything formal or announced yet, in terms of the ballot initiative process,” McClymont says, “but that’s what our effort is—to make people in the state know what the threat is and to be prepared for it.”
A recent poll of rural Nebraskans showed that nearly 70 percent believe animal welfare includes providing adequate exercise, space and social activities for farm animals. But at the same time, most don’t think more animal care regulations are needed.
While he doesn’t have any poll numbers to prove it, McClymont thinks most Nebraskans are in agriculture’s corner.
“The vast majority of people out there are firmly in our camp and understand the value of agriculture—and trust their neighbors in the farm community to take care of their animals.”
McClymont says the coalition is not interested in compromise with animal rights activists. And he rejects the idea of creating a livestock care standards board, saying Nebraska already has strong animal cruelty laws in place.