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Vigilance Is Key: Simple Steps to Strengthen Farm and Plant Security

A safe and abundant food supply is essential to a nation's security, and America's livestock and poultry farmers and ranchers work each day to provide milk, meat, poultry and eggs to our growing and hungry country - and the world. [Source: Animal Ag Aliance]

Unfortunately, there are some groups and individuals who would endanger lives and destroy property, claiming to protect animals or the environment. In the past, farmers, food processors, feed companies, input suppliers and others have been attacked using firebombs, nail bombs, vandalism and graffiti. Our computer systems and Internet security have been breached. Some in our industry have been attacked because they believe in the progress of biotechnology. Threats against those who speak out on behalf of our industries and our progress are all too common.

To help protect farms and food processing facilities, the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act was passed in 2006. The AETA created a federal law prohibiting individuals from participating in activities "for the purpose of damaging or interfering with the operations of an animal enterprise." The law covers conduct that "damages or causes the loss of any real or personal property" or "places a person in reasonable fear" of injury or harm.

While the AETA helped establish some protection for farms and the animal protein production industry, there are still individuals today attempting to gain access to farms with intentions of either harming the facility (with vandalism, by releasing animals or through other tactics), or by damaging its reputation and the reputation of our entire industry. Increasingly, animal rights extremists target farms and processing plants with "undercover" videos - often edited to depict a certain environment and distributed to the media or on YouTube. While we know that these videos are the extreme exceptions to the high standards of animal care found in most facilities, the alarming images cause a lot of concern among consumers with little exposure to the industry.

We can and must do more to protect our farms, ranches, mills and manufacturing facilities. We must be more vigilant, more wary, more resolved to not let extremist organizations interfere with our efforts to feed this country and the world as best we can.

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