Animal Industries Buying Government Favor
from No Compromise Issue 28

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 2000.

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.