Advice issued on preparing for activist activity on farms

In the July edition of the Teagasc pigs advisory newsletter, the director of industry relations with the Animal Agriculture Alliance, Allyson Jones-Brimmer, has offered advice to help prepare farmers for activist activity.

With the threat of activist activity increasing internationally, Brimmer suggested that farmers review their operation’s security procedures and ensure all appropriate measures have been taken.

He suggested that farmers establish check-in procedures for visitors at their farms and make sure all employees and family members know what to do if an unauthorised visitor or group arrives.

All visitors should be asked to present identification and verification of their purpose to come on-site.

Visitors should be escorted at all times, according to Brimmer who advised that if someone does not have the proper credentials and cannot establish that they are authorised to be on your property; they should be told to leave.

“Call the Gardaí if they will not leave when asked to do so,” she advised.

Basic security

He noted that farmers should maintain basic security and lock all doors (barns, offices, cabinets). Proper lighting (consider motion sensor floodlights), alarms, security cameras, and post signs for restricted areas and ‘no trespassing’ should be installed if not already in place.

If feasible, install fencing and gates around your property.

Suspicious activity

Brimmer warned farmers to keep an eye out for suspicious activity. She said that activists will ‘scout out’ a location several times before deciding to hold a large protest there.

Farmers should also keep a record of any strange occurrences such as gates left open, doors unlocked, items out of place or strange vehicles watching their property from the road or drone sightings, she advised.

Whether you encounter a protester at an event or on a farm or if an activist approaches a truck transporting animals, it is always best to ignore them and immediately contact law enforcement.

“Keep your cool and always assume you are being recorded or live streamed online in your interaction regardless of what you are told or whether a camera is visible.”

Brimmer noted that in one incident, activists falsely claimed they were not recording the conversation at a poultry plant as they were live-streaming on Facebook.

Activist demands

Farmers are urged not to comply with demands to release animals, even “just one”.

Giving this group an animal significantly weakens the industry’s attempts to convey why their actions are unacceptable.

Negotiating with an organisation who wants to see animal liberation and the end of animal agriculture will not be productive.

Crisis plan

Brimmer explained: “Like most things, it’s best to be prepared. If you haven’t done so already, you need to create or update your crisis plan. The alliance recommends having a full crisis management and communications plan in place.

“As part of your plan, make sure everyone knows to keep cool and to not engage the protesters.

“It is best to avoid a dramatic incident – farmers or employees engaging in arguments will only do that.”

Concluding, Brimmer stressed: “Do not confront them and do not respond to their demands. Remember that you may likely be recorded and/or live-streamed.”