Agriculture and PETA – the folly of countering outrage with outrage

I think we can all agree humans are flawed race. We are not all perfect and when it comes to bad behavior all industries and organisations do their very best in the recruitment process to weed out the bad apples.

When bad apples are discovered its how they are dealt with by the organisation/industry that show the world the mettle of the organisation/industry. A few bad apples are in the media at the moment and you all know who they are and we are all watching with interest how their industries/organisations handle in the first instance the fallout out. In the second instance the pivotal strategies to mitigate further outrage and weed out the bad apples in a way that ensures the bad apples do not view their industry/.organisation as one that has a culture of sweeping the bad apples under the carpet and hoping a miracle happens

Where agriculture seems to stand out is its seemingly bizarre desire to give oxygen to the bad news stories. This post is making me guilty of this and I acknowledge that.

But I am hoping it might help to generate a conversation to change the way we handle bad press.

PETA is currently doing what it does best and that is using shock jock tactics in its never ending campaign to bring down the wool industry

Our state farming organisations are doing what they usually do and that’s go into outrage mode which involves joining the feeding frenzy to spread PETA’s campaign.Which in this case is another video campaign that feature’s a model I have never heard of getting naked and being made up to looked battered and bruised and seemingly using this imagery to align shearers and farmers with domestic violence.

Now the majority of people look at PETA campaigns and just shake their heads and put PETA in the nutcase element

Agriculture on the other hand takes them very seriously and it begs many questions why and does us no favours

Like this – Who on earth thought it was a good idea to put this comment on Facebook under the PETA video

Crack whore comment

Especially in light of this very impressive ( for all the right reasons ) video currently getting a lot of traction on social media.


We all know farmers are just as outraged by the behaviour of the bad apples as the wider community. Agriculture has a lot to be proud of.  We will continue to weed out the bad apples and continue our commitment to giving the animals in our care the best whole of life experience we can.

A couple of thoughts from me on PETA

  1. PETA  – using naked woman  (and a few men) to make a point is an outrage in itself. I don’t know about you but to me that reduces their credibility rating to zero.
  2. The above video too is calling out bad behaviour  When we see this we dont think all boys are bad. Yet PETA is inferring that everyone in the Wool industry is cruel . Again their credibility is zero. The answer is not shutting down the wool industry. The answer is the same in both cases. Its getting the culture right and I can assure you the wool industry is very determined to do this.
  3. and if your still think PETA has the moral high ground – this might make you rethink . According to this expose More than 93% of the animals in PETA’s care are killed each year. Get the full report here

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Author: Lynne Strong

I am a 6th generation farmer who loves surrounding myself with optimistic, courageous people who believe in inclusion, diversity and equality and embrace the power of collaboration. I am the founder of Picture You in Agriculture. Our team design and deliver programs that inspire pride in Australian agriculture and support young people to thrive in business and life

6 thoughts on “Agriculture and PETA – the folly of countering outrage with outrage”

  1. Lynne, I’ve been following your blog ever since that post about the lamb advert. I sometimes agree with your comments, sometimes I don’t, and of course not being a farmer I can’t really identify with a lot of what you say.

    This post about PETA is an example of where we simply don’t have a common ground. The thing about PETA is that they have the view that any exploitation or harm of animals is not OK. And I share that view. They say “PETA believes that animals have rights and deserve to have their best interests taken into consideration, regardless of whether they are useful to humans. Like you, they are capable of suffering and have an interest in leading their own lives.”

    Once you move into a framework of thinking that says animals are fair game for anything we choose and that their interests in their own well-being and enjoyment of life has no value, you open the way for all sorts of injurious and harmful practices.

    It seems to me that the agricultural ‘community’ that you speak of is not caring of animals in the way that I, and perhaps PETA, might consider to be consistent with the meaning of the word. You say that you will continue your “commitment to giving the animals in our care the best whole of life experience we can.” But that’s exactly where we differ.

    In my view, animals are not your property to treat as you see fit, they were not born to be “in your care”. There is nowhere some kind of sacred covenant that says, “here, all of this life is yours to harm for your own purposes”. So when organisations like PETA, or Animals Australia, or groups like Animal Lib, or people like me, see the harm that people do for selfish reasons, we try to change the world.

    And people like you see in that a threat to your way of life, your livelihood, your community and you decry the “shock jock” tactics. But here’s the thing. I think that the tactics employed by groups like PETA are driven by noble intent. The tactics employed by the industry, rather less so. When I look at the objectives of such groups as PETA or Animal Lib, I see nobility and compassion. When I look at say the objectives of the MLA, I see harm, exploitation and cruelty in the name of money, not at all noble.

    So there is a deep schism between our respective outlooks.

    You talk of the “bad apples”. But when your whole industry exists to harm animals, and the pressures of cost reduction and profit maximisation drive you, the field is fertile indeed for bad apples. As I’ve asked you before, how is it that so many bad apples are found wherever we look? I think it is at least partly because the normal everyday operations of the livestock farming industry are so harmful that we find so many.

    Perhaps there is some central misunderstanding at work. I expect that many if not most farmers see themselves in rather a grand light and would take the view that what on earth could silly city dwellers know of the facts of life on the land. Maybe there is some truth in that. But should the concerns of these latte sipping tree huggers be so easily dismissed? Personally, I don’t think so. I am vehemently opposed to intensive farming operations. I am vehemently opposed to transforming eating animals into a recreational pursuit and a profit engine. I am vehemently opposed to the wholesale slaughter of billions of animals a year to feed our casual lusts.

    Perhaps the divide in philosophies is too broad to bridge. Perhaps you will always see PETA as somehow mischievous and I will see modern livestock farming as an indefensible crime against life. I wonder. Is there a middle ground? I would like to see a genuine discussion in Australian society in which both perspectives were given fair and considered treatment. But this doesn’t seem possible when I see how far from my own philosophy you sit, based upon this post about PETA. How should we find a way to open a meaningful dialogue?

    You and your family run a dairy farm. By my reading this is one of the cruelest and most harmful of all our livestock operations. And there is simply no credible reason for human beings to consume dairy products beyond a personal preference. Yet I am sure you would strongly object to that characterisation and I doubt you see yourself as a cruel person.

    So, how would you go about meeting my concerns, convince me of the need for dairy farming, and show me that animals do not suffer for your family’s profit? If you are so confident that PETA is mistaken and that the bad apples are few and that livestock farming – dairy farming – is a benign activity with sound benefits and a deep commitment to animal welfare, how would you counter the claims to the contrary available to me with just the simplest of Google searches?

    1. Hi Graeme
      My main problem with PETA is they are not a credible organisation. They make me cringe they are so tacky
      Of course I don’t see myself as cruel person and I take great offence that you should infer that.
      However I will not lower myself to your level and make character assassinations with respect to views you hold. All I will say is you don’t know me, you haven’t seen my farm. I don’t know you but I respect your right to hold those views and I continue to give you the opportunity to use my blog to express them

      1. As always, I appreciate that you publish comments like mine. Equally though if you see yourself as a communicator you should be willing to engage with those who disagree with you.

        PETA, tacky? How so? You didn’t think the MLA’s lamb ad was tacky? Humanity’s mind seems closed to the whole issue of animal rights and welfare – surely the strongest of messages is needed to break down the doors of our collective closed minds and industry contempt for life.

        Now, I didn’t say that you were cruel. I observed that by my reading, the dairy industry is a cruel one. I noted that you wouldn’t agree. There is a discrepancy there. Why should this be so? I am not making a character assassination, I am suggesting that a particular form of farming is cruel. It’s why organisations like PETA or Animal Lib would speak out against it. How can it be that one group of people see cruelty where another does not? What is the truth, if indeed there is a truth to be found?

        I am convinced that intensive pig farming is utterly cruel and indefensible. I’ve seen a lot of evidence for this, and I’ve studied industry standards and guidelines and a number of cases brought to prosecution. I think I am right. Right now, I am less persuaded as far as dairying goes. I just don’t know enough. But I can quite quickly gather the main arguments against it. It does sound to me to be cruel in some ways. And there seems little reason to do it other than for profit.

        My question was, how should you convince people like me otherwise?

        Tell you what, you aren’t far away from me. Do you offer guided tours or open days? I’m more than happy to pop along and see your farm, get to know you, and hear your story. I am always open to hearing both sides of an issue and it certainly offers me a more balanced perspective. Like I said once before, my uncle ran a dairy farm in North Queensland so I am not quite a stranger to such things, but that was long ago and it just was what it was to me back then. I should be most interested to see first hand how such a farm works today and hear how my concerns either do not exist or are managed well.

      2. HI Graeme
        Taking a walk in my shoes is not a one day road trip
        You think your philosophies are right and I have confidence in my pragmatic approach
        If you have also read my latest blog post you will see I am not currently in the right headspace for long philosophical conversations on my verandah with people who oppose raising animals for food
        FYI This is what Australia’s leading scientific expert has to say on the realities of livestock agriculture
        Whilst there is a continuing debate about livestock versus other crop sources of food, but there are some solid arguments that show:
        a) removing livestock from the world food equation just makes an impossible task that much harder;
        b) livestock are the only mechanism we have for generating food from the vast rangelands of the world that are unsuitable for other types of food production;
        c) livestock are not just for food in developing countries – they are the banking system (Africa), religious system (India and Africa), transport, power etc.
        d) it is really only the privileged minority that have the luxury of choosing a vegetarian lifestyle. The rest of the world just eats what they can afford
        e) Rising vegetarianism will not affect the growth in the livestock industries, as there is clear evidence that the worlds rising middle class (predicted to be 4.9 B by 2030) demand more animal protein with their rising affluence. Supply and demand will mean livestock continues to grow, even if the all the privileged urbanites become vegetarian.
        f) The real solution to livestock methane is continued research to develop low methane animals and livestock systems. Or eat kangaroos.

        Thank you for taking the time to comment on my blog

    2. Graeme
      I too want a kinder world I agree their is far too much waste in the world and we both would like to see those of us who are lucky enough to live in developed countries seeing the wicked problems as a shared responsibility
      One of those is to make conscience decisions about the food we eat
      As my expert says animal livestock play an important role in maintain our ecossytems as does the grains industry – let’s not demonise and play one off against the other and focus on empowering people to make the best choices for their families and the planet

  2. I’m sorry to hear you are feeling stressed at the moment. I guess you take on quite a workload with what seems to be a very extensive range of activities you participate in. I hope you get back on top soon.

    If you ever feel up to taking me up on my suggestion, I’d be most keen. I actually would like to find out how much truth there is in the claims against the dairy industry. I might not agree with livestock farming but I’d like to at least have a balanced perspective.

    By the way, your ‘scientific expert’ illustrates what is wrong with how we approach our world. From treating food as anything but sustenance to weaving lack of concern for animal lives into our very social fabric to the belief that it is our job to use every square inch of our world to actively fostering increasing consumption of animal lives even when we know the harm that involves.

    It’s funny, but I too am feeling a little down right now. I am no special person, just a guy who rides dirtbikes, votes Liberal and ate meat for 56 years of his life. But when the scales fell from my eyes and I realised the extent of the awfulness we visit every day on our fellow animals, it left me quite shattered. I actually wake in the night and think about this.

    I don’t see a world without farmers, but I do believe there must be a kinder way for us to live in the world. Maybe I am naive, but surely if we fed and clothed the world with plant based (or sustainable artificial) products we could have a lively farming industry and reduce significantly our negative impact on the world? I’m not in lala land thinking that every fluffy mouse and tweeting bird should be on a pedestal and no harm should ever befall them. But really. Over 100 billion land animals a year being raised and killed for our pleasures? It’s a monstrous cost so we can wear our woollen designer tops, drink our chocolate dairy shakes or chow down on takeaway bacon burgers.

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