I thought this day would never come. I never thought I would be telling farmers and ranchers in the Ozarks to be cautious about whom they allow on their farms, but here I am. 

At the end of May, a radical animal rights organization launched an online interactive map of farms it considers “violators” of animal rights.

The map gives addresses of farms it considers factory farms, as well as the names of the owners. It appears to target poultry, swine and dairy operations, favorites of animal-rights activists. 

An animal-rights publication praised the development of the site, and claims about 5,812 of the more than 27,000 farms identified on the map were only found because of satellite imagery and some were not found in public records. It’s not hard to find someone these days. You just have to know where to look. It’s unfortunate, but a loss of anonymity, to a certain degree, is part of the digital age. 

The map doesn’t bother me as much as the message the organization, its website and social media pages are trying to convey. The organization is encouraging followers to go to the noted farms to conduct “investigations.” They even offers tips on entering farms to obtain photos and videos, and what the best angle would be. There are warnings to be careful after dark because they might fall into a lagoon, and for an “investigator” to say they are looking for their missing dog if approached by someone and quickly walking away. 

This is all very disturbing. There seems to be only a handful of followers of the website and it’s social media pages, so I’m hopeful they are a very small extremist bunch. These days, however, we have seen only a few radicals grow into masses, and this group is actively recruiting. They are preying on the emotions of animal lovers to “save” animals from what they perceive as torture and inhumanity. I’m an animal lover myself and never want to see an animal mistreated, be it a pet or livestock, nor do most farmers. I also know livestock has a purpose, and that’s to be a food source. 

I’m not a big onion fan, much to the dismay of most of my family, so I choose not to eat onions. Because I choose not to eat onions, does that mean I’m against onion production? No. Will I trespass on an onion farm in the middle of the night do an “investigation” into onion production? No. If I don’t agree with a business, it’s philosophy, products or services, I simply do not patronize that business. I’m not going to spend much time trying to undermine it either. I’ve got other things to do. I try to live under a “to each their own” philosophy. I try not to infringe on the rights of anyone, even if I don’t follow their beliefs or thinking. 

I did comment on the social media page, stating I felt the promotion of trespassing was taking the agenda too far, among a few others things. One woman blew up, which I fully expected (I do enjoy a good debate from time to time), but another said she felt sorry for me. She was sorry I could only make a living from the flesh of animals and their suffering. She hoped one day I could find a job that would let me be free from my burdens. Kind of creepy, don’t you think? I felt like she was trying to recruit me for a cult. 

I figure I’ll be banned from this group before long, so I will hang it up there like a star of achievement, just like I do my three-year running ban by PETA. 

I debated about sharing the name of the organization and its website information, but I decided not to. Why? The more times people go to that website, the organization can chalk it up to web “hits” and promote those hits as if their jaded message is getting more followers. I’ve already given them enough ink. 

If you see anyone prowling around your farm uninvited, contact law enforcement. If someone claiming to be a media representative calls you asking questions or wanting to take pictures, ask for ID and the name of the news organization before consenting. 

And if Ozarks Farm & Neighbor calls, remember we’re the good guys.

Julie Turner-Crawford is a native of Dallas County, Mo., where she grew up on her family’s farm. She is a graduate of Missouri State University. To contact Julie, call 1-866-532-1960 or by email at [email protected]


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