Activists, farmers need to communicate

Bob Hammill, Sale


CONFRONTATION between producers and animal rights activists is becoming more tense and more divisive.

For activists, their numbers are increasing and ‘saving’ one or two animals is seen as a victory.

To me, proposed countermeasures by governments to impose fines and jail sentences seems flawed.

Legislation will face many challenges, and fines will be no deterrent.

Activists will quickly establish a fighting fund and good legal advice will minimise the risk of custodial sentences.

For producers the options are clear – sit back and watch how the ‘big stick’ approach unfolds, or begin work on Plan B.

If the ‘big stick’ approach doesn’t work, the next option, a moderated approach, will take at least a year to develop and probably another year to implement.

The temptation for producers is to throw their hands in the air and proclaim moderation will never work – negotiation with activists is not an option.

Right now that’s probably right, but I think that will change as more moderates join the activists over the next few years.

A moderated solution requires a moderator with a degree of respect by both parties, and I think there are a number of organisations, like the RSPCA, who could be equipped and funded to play that role.

To develop a Plan B, producers need to be discussing options and opportunities now rather than later.

A moderator can find ‘common ground’ and silly as it sounds, a moderated approach could have activists working with producers to improve their industry, and producers working to improve animal rights.

I think the chances of a long-term solution in that environment are much greater than anything offered by the current strategy.