In a speech on climate change at Yale University’s School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Tom Vilsack, defended the intensive confinement of farm animals on the grounds of demand, saying “the market has been encouraging [farmers] to do that.” He also stated unequivocally that abuse on factory farms is the exception, not the norm, in spite of the fact that confinement is, in and of itself, abusive and that animal mutilation is standard practice on industrialized farms.
Mr. Vilsack made the remarks in response to the following question posed by animal rights activist and Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) organizer Zach Groff: “You are on the record supporting more subsidies for animal agriculture, defending animal agriculture left and right whether it goes for pink slime or keeping animal products in the [government’s] nutritional guidelines. Everyone in this room knows that animal agriculture is devastating for forests, for the climate, for the water supply. But most ignored is that there are innocent animals who are routinely the victims of horrendous violence. And I want to ask you – why do you support horrendous violence against innocent animals?”
After Mr. Vilsack addressed Mr. Groff’s remarks, categorically denying the inherent cruelty of animal agriculture, DxE activists disrupted the event, chanting “It’s not food. It’s violence” as they exited the auditorium.
Brian Burns, a DxE spokesperson said, “Tom Vilsack is dangerous. His carefully crafted messages about built-in animal protections and his sympathetic tone belie the fact that he is subsidizing the country’s most violent industry with our tax dollars. And his lies about animal agriculture, which must sound compelling to those who are uninformed, serve to marginalize the activists who are fighting to end the cruelty.”
Activists say that Mr. Vilsack is the American version of Barnaby Joyce, Australia’s Minster of Agriculture who notoriously works to convince the public that the millions of sheep and cattle who are abused and tortured in his country’s live export trade are treated “humanely in almost every instance.”
DxE is growing rapidly. In the 1.5 years since launching the “It’s not food. It’s violence” campaign, the organization has added chapters in 110 cities in 24 countries, including India, Bolivia, Romania, Indonesia and the Republic of Georgia. Following is short video highlighting their recent non-violent direct actions.
Please visit Direct Action Everywhere to learn about, support and/or join the organization’s ground-breaking campaign to expose animal cruelty in the very spots where it is taking place.