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I urge dairy farmers and livestock producers of all kinds and sizes to set aside their differences and unite for our shared, common good.

As anti-agriculture animal activists work together to try and stop large animal agriculture and CAFOs from existing, we must realize we are in a fight for our livelihoods. They have come to my county in disguise supposedly to defend hogs … but almost never mention hogs. Instead, they only say that all CAFOs must be stopped or have more burdensome regulations put on them.

They will say they love the family farm and are not against farming — as long as you farm the way they want you to. They want to dictate how we farm without having to lift a finger or be willing to do an ounce of work to help feed the world. They come with misinformation, half- truths or no truth at all.

Non-livestock farmers, we need your help also. You will be next in their sites — equipment too big, too much noise, too much dust, operating too early and too late, the list goes on and on.

If any of us hope to stay in business we MUST work together. While we are usually busy trying to make a living, anti-agriculture activists seem to have nothing better to do than attend meetings. Unfortunately, farmers account for less than 2 percent of the population — there are so few of us left, we must work together!

 If we are going to win this battle for the hearts and minds of our neighbors and consumers, we must stop worrying about ourselves individually and start worrying about animal agriculture as a whole. Our opponents count on us being divided. It allows them to effectively divide and conquer, pitting small against large, crop farming against livestock, etc.  When only many small farms or a few large farms exist, it will become much easier to take out the last of us.

If we are unwilling to put those differences aside and work together, we will have lost before we even start.

I urge you to not sit on the sidelines, hoping someone else will stand up for you, because this is unlikely to happen. When the “animal rights crusaders” or “selfless environmentalists” come to your county get involved, stay involved and speak the truth.

If we are unwilling to stand up for ourselves, why should anyone else?

Brad Olson is a Polk County Board member and farmer

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