By Ian Cumming
GUELPH — Many farmers who have faced unfair animal cruelty charges or harassment from activists have taken up their fight alone. Perhaps this time Ontario farm lobby groups really are coming to the rescue. They are joining forces to battle animal rights and other activist groups that have been terrorizing individual farmers and farm policies.
The strategy will not be publicly released to avoid it getting into the hands of activists, said Farm & Food Care Ontario executive director Tracy Hussey. But she added that all commodity and livestock groups are in agreement in forming the organization.
No farm group when contacted was willing to discuss the plan. Hussey noted in a Sept. 23 email: “It is in the best interests of agriculture to keep any anti-activist work out of the press.”
Farm & Food Care Ontario has come under heavy criticism for doing the easy lifting of educational awareness while no group was left to fight the activists. The importance of a ground battle has come to light following recent cases in which animal activists have been targeting Ontario sale barns. In other cases, activists have let livestock loose on mink farms.
Hussey conceded that recently passed provincial legislation and pending federal legislation was more influenced by animal rights activists than agriculture.
In another move, Farm & Food Care Ontario has decided to stop training livestock inspectors with the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Taking money to train the OSPCA was seen by many farmers as an obvious conflict of interest.
The training has been passed to OMAFRA, Hussey said.