How do some people choose to fill their time once all of their basic needs of food, water and shelter are met? The answer for some is to attack and terrorize farmers and ranchers simply because they don’t approve of their business. Animal rights groups, such as Direct Action Everywhere (DXE) specifically, are descending upon Sonoma County and their protests have become the norm here as of late. Their actions vary from blocking traffic on farms, trespassing, chaining themselves to equipment and outright theft. People used to respect private property in society, but activists now flout those laws and disrupt societal norms for what they perceive as a just and noble cause. None of these groups know or understand how we operate and yet they are offended. There is no science supporting their reasoning and they play on people’s emotions in an attempt to shut animal agriculture down.
First, I would like to extend a huge thank you to Sonoma County Sheriff Mark Essick and the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Deputies for helping to protect our local farms, ranches and property rights. Nearly 100 protesters were arrested during the latest incident alone. Law enforcement went above and beyond to support agriculture. In fact, they have done so well that the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department has become one of the “go to” leaders in dealing with these groups as they make their way to other counties across the state. While we greatly appreciate and commend the Sheriff’s efforts in this, I know that they are needed all over our county. I certainly hope that in a dangerous or life-threatening situation you or those you know do not need the Sheriff when their resources are being diverted to protesters. Having said that, I know that an angry, screaming and trespassing mob would be quite unnerving when you are outnumbered by protestors on your farm. In their latest transgression, the protesters chained themselves by the neck to gates and machinery and were very nearly seriously injured. Not only do farmers and ranchers need to worry about trespassing and theft, but injury and potential loss of life. Kudos to the farmers and ranchers who have been impacted by this and have conducted themselves in a professional manner. I know how tough that would be for me if my livelihood was threatened.
Last year at Farm Bureau’s Beyond the Fence Line workshop, our Executive Director Tawny Tesconi called these protesters domestic terrorists and that’s exactly what they are when they take such aggressive, destructive, and disruptive actions. Tawny and our staff did a tremendous job with the workshop last year and we plan to do another this year on October 29. Farm Bureau is striving to be on the leading edge of this issue and wants to better help and prepare farmers and ranchers for the threat of activists at their fence lines. Stealing from my friend Dr. Vernon at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, “Maybe we should organize an angry mob to swarm a vegan restaurant and demand that they have meat on the menu.”