Farm protests involving environmental and animal rights groups cause significant concern for agricultural operations. One of the most recent high-profile incidents in California involved the arrest of nearly 100 protestors associated with Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) who were trespassing at a duck farm in Petaluma for several hours. These types of protests can have a significant financial impact on the operations where they occur.
“All of their employees were scared to death and went home that day, so a whole lost day of production,” said Executive Director of the Sonoma County Farm Bureau (SCFB) Tawny Tesconi. “Let alone the cost of the follow-up afterwards to make your facilities more ‘hardened’ so to speak. I know a lot of our farmers now are looking at putting up additional fencing and things like that.”
Between the loss of production and the implementation of additional security measures, protests can be a costly thing for agricultural operations to endure. Protest groups can cause varying levels of property damage as well as bio-contamination. However, these types of events also end up costing the local community as well. “The other thing is the cost of public funds,” Tesconi noted. “I think at this last incident at the Reichardt Duck Farm there was like 50-60 sheriff officers, let alone fireman and police officers, and that kind of stuff, who were there all day long.”
After numerous incidents involving DxE in 2018, SCFB hosted an event to educate farmers and ranchers on how to prepare and address farm protests. Another Beyond the Fence Line event is scheduled for October 29 this year and will include an address from California Farm Bureau President Jamie Johansson, along with presentations on conflict resolution and how to engage with protest groups. Tesconi noted that representatives from the sheriff’s office as well as the district attorney’s office will also be addressing questions such as “what are your legal rights? How do we react? What should we be doing? And how do you harden your facility? So, that’s really an excellent opportunity to hear from an expert like that.”
Listen to Tesconi’s interview below.