When Animal Rights Activists Go Too Far

 
Mental Health Farmers.jpg

Today I shared a video over on my Instagram page of my new puppy Harlow meeting the big pigs for the first time. In the video, she’s seen running excitedly, trying to play with the pigs while they wander over to see me, mostly ignoring her attempts. The video is a puppy being a puppy along side some well adjusted and happy hogs.

And today, my video was flagged as content some may find ‘sensitive and disturbing’. I can’t say I’m surprised anymore to be honest, this is the way things go for me as a farmer raising meat, particularly in the Metro Vancouver area.

As my inbox of direct messages flooded with followers confused how such an innocent video would be flagged, I realized that I’ve been keeping something private about what I, and farmers like myself, deal with on an almost daily basis.

As someone who has strived to share the behind-the-scenes of my life as a farmer, I’ve also opened myself up to attacks by extreme animal activists.

Now I’d like to start off by saying there are extremists in every belief system out there and I’m not talking people simply choosing a plant-based diet, I’m talking about people who threaten the safety and security of farmers for simply raising animals. There is a difference and I respect people’s choices in what food they wish to consume and am proud to say we have many vegan customers who have children or a spouse who are carnivore so they choose our farm.

Through the years I’ve had my safety threatened to the point that police have been involved. I’ve received emails, and calls, and had my personal information spread through online activist groups so I could be the target of not only false bad reviews, but more worrisome so I could be the target of treats against my farm, my animals, and my family.

You may have noticed through the years that I don’t very often share content about my step-kids, I all but avoided it completely when they were younger.

The reason?

In the past, I’ve received calls and detailed messages through social media from groups claiming they plan to sit outside my home and scream at my kids that their step-mom is a murderer. These are from real accounts that the police confirmed are real people but unfortunately there’s nothing they can do to protect my family from a ‘peaceful’ protest of screaming at our kids from the road outside our home.

I’m sure at this point, many of you who know us and our farm are questioning why in the world they would choose to attack me over the many commercial, high-density operations raising animals in my community.

Well for many reasons, but mostly because you don’t see those farms on social media the way you see me. They often don’t open their homes to the community through events and on-farm stores and because their farms are often surrounded by large fences and therefore a protest would go much less noticed.

The reason I’m most often given for why I’m a target is because they don’t like that I share videos of happy pigs because it goes against the agenda of trying to convince people that every farm looks like the farms in the videos they choose to share. According to them, there’s no such thing as an ethically raised animal when in the end it’s used for meat, something I openly disagree with.

As many of you know, I do a lot of work with non-profits and have sat on many agriculture related boards, and last year I sat on an advisory council regarding agri-terrorism. When I first received the request, I thought they made a typo and wanted my opinions on agri-tourism something I know a fair bit about.

Turns out, the Canadian government, the RCMP, our provincial farming associations, and other organizations had joined forces to deal with the growing concern that terrorist organizations are infiltrating extremist animal rights groups right here in Canada to cause interruption to our food supply. Honestly you guys, I can’t even make this shit up. I sat in shock as they discussed the issues large scale agriculture is facing in this country before piping up to say it isn’t just the big guys that are under attack.

Farmers are being targeted in our community for simply producing food. We now fear that our farms will be broken into, our animals will be released, our children won’t be safe on their own properties. Activists may claim these are non-violent and peaceful protests but when 100’s of people descend onto a farm, trespass onto private property and enter buildings where farm kids are often helping with chores, there’s nothing peaceful about that. I consider that a direct threat to a farm family’s safety.

These aren’t one off situations and this isn’t ok. Regardless of your feelings towards animal agriculture, farmers are doing their jobs and not breaking laws and therefore need to be protected.

Thankfully for Central Park Farms we have a great group of customers who know first hand how we operate and for every cyberbullying message, there’s countless thanking us for what we’re doing.

In the past I decided to avoid mentioning these issues because I didn’t want to draw more attention to myself and give these activists a hard copy of my feelings to distribute like they do my other posts. I didn’t want them to know they’re doing serious harm to the mental health of farmers because that’s exactly what they want.

But every time I receive another email or message, I’m reminded they’re not going anywhere so I guess the point of this all is to say, neither am I.

Kendall ~ Boss Chick at Central Park Farms

 
Kendall Ballantine