by: Wes Ishmael

You can find this from ‘unnamed activists' on the website of the Animal Liberation Front, following arson that destroyed trucks and equipment at Harris Ranch near Coalinga, CA January, misspellings, poor grammar and all:

“at about 3:40 am on sunday, january 8th, 14 cattle trucks caught fire at the harris feeding company in coalinga, ca. containers of accelerant were placed beneath a row of 14 trucks with 4 digital timers used to light 4 of the containers and kerosene-soaked rope carrying the fire to the other 10 (a tactic adapted from Home Alone 2 [if you're going to try this make sure to use kerosene, gasoline dries to quickly]). we weren't sure how well this was going to work, so we waited until there was news reports before writing this. we were extremely pleased to see that all 14 trucks "were a total loss" with some being "completely melted to the ground."

“we're not going to use this space to expound upon the horrors and injustices of factory farming. there is more than enough armchair-activists and those of passive politics who are more than willing to do that (anything to keep from getting their hands dirty). we, the unsilent minority (the 1%, if you will), choose a more direct form of action.

“we're not delusional enough to believe that this action will shut down the harris feeding company, let alone have any effect on factory farming as a whole. but we maintain that this type of action still has worth, if not solely for the participant's peace of mind, then to show that despite guards, a constant worker presence, and razorwire fence, the enemy is still vulnerable.

“finally, to all those who fantasize and romanticize about direct action yet remain on the fence: there is a lot of stuff that needs to be destroyed and we can't count on spontaneous combustion and careless welders to do all the work.

“until next time...”

I usually wouldn't give space to such myopic fiction spewed by gutless idiots, too cowardly to stand behind their actions, let alone their words. But, I think it's worth understanding what ignorance animal agriculture is up against.

“This is not only an attack on a family-owned and operated business; this is a domestic terrorist attack on our nation's providers of food and fiber,” said Bill Donald, president of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) in a statement January 12. “This extremist behavior goes above mere activism and the freedom of speech. These criminals are threatening lives and causing substantial economic harm.

“Anyone concerned about the welfare of animals would not orchestrate attacks on individuals who are experts at caring for these creatures. Ranchers are undoubtedly the very best caretakers of livestock. Cattlemen and women implement the highest animal handling and food safety standards designed by veterinarians, animal behavioral experts and researchers.

“These extreme attacks are nothing more than bad people doing bad things and they must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, just as any other criminal would be in this country.”

Livestock Agriculture is THAT Important

Indeed. This latest extremist attack serves as a salient reminder of how important U.S. agriculture is to this nation and the world, as well as the desperate measures some will go to in order to be heard, no matter how idiotic their beliefs. Whether it's domestic terrorists dressed in extremist clothes or international terrorists against all that America stands for, agriculture represents an ideal target.

For one thing, agriculture is far-flung, much of it taking place away from the routine vision of the public. For another, it provides a disproportionate amount of value to the nation, relative to the inputs and the number of people directly involved in it.

That's why agriculture is considered one of this nation's handful of essential critical infrastructures. We'll save for a another day how it is that the U.S. government can consider that so at the same time it binds agriculture and energy policies together with the Renewable Fuels Standard.

Whether it's these domestic terrorists, international terrorists or good, old-fashioned cattle rustlers—prices being what they are—the point is that there is nothing paranoid about recognizing the importance of your individual operation in serving the world or in periodically considering how you're protecting it.

“Farm and ranch security is a growing concern in the United States. Common threats include biological, chemical, radiological, theft of supplies, equipment and materials, and property damage,” writes David W. Smith, with the Texas AgriLife Extension Safety Program, in Farm and Ranch Security ( “Perpetrators may include a terrorist group, extremist organization, drug manufacturers, or ill-intentioned individuals. These groups see farms and ranches as an easy target due to their remote locations, easy access, and lack of surveillance.”

To protect against agro-terrorism, Smith says measures include:

• Make safety the main priority at your facility and report all suspicious activity.

• Give authorities copies of maps of your farm, ranch, or facility that clearly indicate utility services shut-off points, and areas that house potentially dangerous materials.

• Restrict access to crops and material storage facilities.

• Contact the local veterinarian, plant pathologist, and the USDA's Area Veterinarian in Charge and Area Emergency Coordinator to determine what to do in case of a terrorist threat or terrorist act.

That's in addition to such procedural measures as:

• Maintain only one entry and exit point through which all visitors and contractors must travel.

• Establish check-in and check-out procedures for any and all visitors, making them a requirement.

• Use visitor identification badges to ensure the safety of your employees and visitors.

• Monitor Employees: Agriculture operations that hire many employees should establish employment procedures that help protect the agricultural operation and other employees.

And, that's after such measures as:

• Complete a thorough background check on each new hire.

• Ask for and check all employee references.

• Notify potential employees that your operation will report and file criminal charges against any employee that breaks the law.

• Make existing employees aware of the potential for specific criminal activity or terrorist threats at the facility. Maintain an open-door policy for employees to report suspicious activity. Educate employees that work in sensitive areas to restrict access to anyone that cannot show proper identification. Workers should report any and all suspicious activity to a supervisor or security person immediately.

Broader education is also part of protection. In the case of the Harris Ranch terrorists, producers and their representative organizations must continue to point out to unwitting supporters of such groups that there is nothing about those groups aimed at serving animals or humans. They exist first and foremost as money-making machinery. Their efforts inflict unnecessary costs on the industries they target, thereby undermining the consumers they profess to serve.

As authorities continue to investigate the arson attack on Harris Ranch, the California Farm Bureau Federation (CFBF) said the arrest and prosecution of those responsible must be a high priority.

“The terrorists who attacked a beef production company in California this week must be arrested and prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” CFBF president Paul Wenger said. “We know the local authorities are working hard to find the attackers and we offer our full support.”

“The National Cattlemen's Beef Association strongly condemns any and all attacks against farming and ranching operations. As a rancher, a father and a proud grandfather, I feel for the families impacted by this senseless attack,” Donald said. “As president of the leading national cattle organization, I applaud my fellow cattlemen for their efforts to provide the safest and highest quality beef to consumers in the United States and beyond.”

Wenger also believes animal-welfare groups should help resolve the case.

“We encourage animal-welfare organizations to help authorities find those responsible,” Wenger says. “If they sit by silently while animal rightists attack law-abiding businesses, they are passively endorsing domestic terrorism.”

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