Animal industries represent a monstrous sector in the U.S.
economy, raking in hundreds of billions of dollars. In 2004,
sales of animal feed and animals raised for meat, dairy, and
eggs exceeded $150 billion. Of course, the use of animals
for food is just one segment of the animal industry complex.
It should come as no surprise, then, that industries with
this sort of financial worth exert an incredible amount of
lobbying power within our government.
This power translates into a mind-boggling level of subsidies
and tax advantages, promotion of animal products by government
agencies, lax enforcement of animal protection laws, and the
passage of laws designed to increase punishment for those
who break the law to save animal lives.
Government agencies that were initially designed to provide
sound public policy and science have been co-opted by industry
groups to do little more than provide government-sponsored
advertising. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA),
for example, uses its $70-billion budget to promote industry
goals. Specifically, the USDA conducts and sponsors agricultural
research, expand markets for U.S. agricultural products and
provide subsidies to U.S. agribusiness corporations.
While the government spends and spends on promoting animal
products, somehow it seems to constantly find its self under-funded
when it comes to enforcing the Animal Welfare Act. Each year,
the U.S. government spends over $10 billion on subsidies to
the livestock industry and to the farmers growing crops to
feed livestock. Money from government subsidies made up almost
half the entire net income for all farm income in fiscal year
These numbers represent just the tip of the iceberg. This
sort of support and promotion of animal industries plays a
huge role in making the exploitation and slaughter of animals
so profitable. And it’s our tax dollars that are funding
it. If we are ever going to make real progress for the animals
we must eliminate this sort of corporate welfare and granting
of political favors to industry groups.
This is not something we can do alone. To be at our most
effective, animal activists must ally themselves with already-existing
groups to expose this industry “pork” to the public
and campaign for legislative reform. Groups like Public
Citizen, Common Cause
and the Center for Media
and Democracy already focus on exposing just this sort
of profiteering and need our support and encouragement to
take on animal industries.