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Alliance releases report from 2016 Animal Rights National Conference

Publication Date: 8/18/2016

Animal rights activists encouraged to be more aggressive in mission to “destroy animal agriculture”

August 18, 2016 – The Animal Agriculture Alliance released a report today detailing observations from the Animal Rights National Conference, hosted July 7-10 in Los Angeles, Ca. by the Farm Animal Rights Movement. According to conference organizers, more than 1,700 individuals were present at the event, described as “devoted to advancing the vision of animal rights.”

“We are alarmed by the statements animal rights movement leaders made at this conference encouraging activists to be increasingly aggressive in seeking liberation for farm animals,” said Kay Johnson Smith, Alliance president and CEO. “The speakers made their end goal – ending animal agriculture and securing a vegan society – very clear. If you have a vested interest in producing, processing or selling meat, poultry, eggs and dairy, you need to read this report and understand the forces our industry is up against.”

Various conference speakers offered a consistent message – the animal rights movement is pushing for an end to the consumption of animal products, and they believe they are progressing toward that goal. “We are trying to destroy animal agriculture,” said Wayne Hsiung, Direct Action Everywhere. Television personality Simone Reyes stated, “we’re praying on emotions to push our vegan agenda,” likening animal agriculture to slavery and murder. Lisa Levinson, sustainable activism campaign manager for In Defense of Animals clearly outlined her organization’s mission: “to liberate animals” and “create vegan communities.”

Animal rights activist organizations have historically targeted large-scale, modern operations (calling them “factory farms”), but several conference speakers urged attendees to broaden their scope. Karen Davis, founder and president of United Poultry Concerns told the audience to target the industry as a whole, suggesting they “stop saying “stop factory farming” and say “stop all animal farming.”” Mike Wolf, investigations manager for Compassion Over Killing, echoed this sentiment, commenting, “Humane meat? There is no such thing.”

Activists in attendance were encouraged to amplify their efforts, with David Coman-Hidy, executive director of The Humane League, stating, “we cannot lose if we keep our eyes on the prize and are relentless in our fight for animals.” Coman-Hidy gave tips for pressuring brands and companies, telling attendees to “find a vulnerable target” and “assemble an overwhelming force to utilize from day one.” “The crueler it is, the quicker the fight is over,” he concluded.

A final concerning trend was a focus on engaging with youth and college students. “By focusing on the youth, we are able to target the age group who is trying new things,” said Jon Camp, director of outreach, Vegan Outreach. Nathan Runkle, president and founder of Mercy For Animals, said the animal rights movement is driven by the young. Vic Sjodin, Vegan Outreach, explained the reason behind making this age group a priority, stating, “People in college are questioning their values and able to make food decisions for the first time.”

Also speaking at the conference were: Alex Hershaft, president, Farm Animal Rights Movement; Michael Webermann, executive director, Farm Animal Rights Movement; Nick Cooney, vice president, Mercy For Animals and managing trustee, New Crop Capital (formerly affiliated with Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty); Steve Hindi, founder and president, Showing Animals Respect and Kindness; Erica Meier, executive director, Compassion Over Killing and Paul Shapiro, Kristie Middleton, Kenny Torrella and Ken Botts – all with The Humane Society of the United States.

The 2016 Animal Rights National Conference Report, which includes personal accounts of speaker presentations and general observations, is available to Alliance members in the Resource Library on the Alliance website. The Alliance also released a report earlier this summer from the Humane Society of the United States’ Taking Action for Animals Conference which is accessible to members on the Alliance website.
Media wishing to obtain copies of the full report, or for all other inquiries, please contact Casey Whitaker, communications coordinator, at

About the Alliance:
The Animal Agriculture Alliance is an industry-united, nonprofit organization that helps bridge the communication gap between farm and fork. We connect key food industry stakeholders to arm them with responses to emerging issues. We engage food chain influencers and promote consumer choice by helping them better understand modern animal agriculture. We protect by exposing those who threaten our nation’s food security with damaging misinformation. Find the Alliance on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

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