Milk swirl.
November 19, 2018

How Not To Confront Animal Activists

 |  By: Dairy Talk

Animal activists like nothing more than a confrontation with farmers whose operations they’ve targeted. With hidden cameras and microphones rolling, any confrontation provides them with more controversy and fund raising fodder.


Western United Dairymen (WUD) issued an alert this month that December will see increasing “days of action” in California and perhaps elsewhere. Those “days of action” provide the perfect opportunity for these groups to get and post videos so that unsuspecting grandmas everywhere can send in their tax-exempt donations before the end of the year.


Always keep in mind that activists are looking for confrontation. “They need you to lose your cool, get emotional, angry, speak out and act out. The larger the crowd, the bigger the spectacle. That is free publicity… Don’t give it to them,” says Katelyn Lewis, a WUD field representative.


Lewis has a very short list of things NOT to do:



               • Be combative or use force.

               • Have a large group approach the activists, even if they are trespassing.

               • Touch or shoot down drones—which is illegal.

               • Bring more attention to their cause.


She also has a list of things you can and should do:


               • Visibly post “No Trespassing” signs at each entrance to your operation.

               • Reduce all unnecessary Right of Way access to your property. Contact your local sheriff’s office for help in doing so.

               • Designate an “activist agent” for your operation for every shift. “If a suspicious person is identified, you agent needs to be trained to know exactly what to do and to know your rights,” Lewis says. Again, local law enforcement can help.

               • If activists gain entry to your farm, contact local law enforcement immediately. Then,

learn who the trespassers are and what their concerns are, doing so respectfully. Notify them they are on private property and ask them to leave. Get license plate numbers, take pictures and film their vehicles.

               • Be aware that the activists will likely have hidden cameras and will be filming you. Protect your operation with counter filming of the activists and their drones.


As frustrating as it is to be patient and non-confrontational, such an approach pays off in the long run. Recall a number of incidents last year on several Florida dairies. An activist group, Animal Recovery Mission (ARM), had come onto the dairies, alleging abuse.


As frustrating as these allegations were, the National Milk Producers Federation urged caution, patience and restraint. Like WUD, NMPF counseled that any confrontation with the group would only lead to more problems and provide the group with fund-raising opportunities.


While the incidents did result in charges being filed against some dairy employees, the activist group itself has fallen out of favor with law enforcement.


Last week, the Miami Herald posted a story showing how Miami law enforcement was increasingly frustrated with the group. The concern involved cock fighting rings, but the Miami-Dade Assistant State Attorney Michael Filteau cited “serious ethical concerns” about ARM’s tactics, its refusal to work with police and taking the law into its own hands.


In the coming months, as activists ramp up their “days of action,” be vigilant about any intruders onto your property and have a plan in place to deal with them. Be patient and prudent; don’t become your own worst enemy. Let them be theirs.