COALINGA, Calif. — Farm organizations across the country are condemning what appears to be an animal rights-led act of arson against Harris Ranch, located in Coalinga, Calif.
An organization called Animal Liberation Front forwarded an anonymous email in which unnamed animal rights activists take credit for fires set to 14 cattle trucks Jan. 8.
The message, from an anonymous source, claims digital timers were used to light containers of accelerant placed beneath the trucks. Officials still have not determined if the fire was caused by the activists.
But Mike Casey, vice president of risk management and human resources for the farm, said there are plenty clues pointing to a “definite” arson, something that was “definitely set.”
The local sheriff’s office, Federal Bureau of Investigation and the county’s crime task force are reviewing “multitudes of clues,” Casey said.
The author of the message wrote, “We weren’t sure how well this was going to work, so we waited until there was news reports before writing this. We were extremely pleased to see that all 14 trucks ‘were a total loss’ with some being ‘completely melted to the ground.'”
The writer of the message identifies “factory farming” as his enemy and says this act is just one of many necessary to achieve his or her goals.
“Despite guards, a constant worker presence, and razorwire fence, the enemy is still vulnerable. …” the person wrote. “There is a lot of stuff that needs to be destroyed and we can’t count on spontaneous combustion and careless welders to do all the work.”
Casey said the issue at hand is arson, and the incident should not be used to give publicity to unlawful activists.
“You want people to know these people are out there, but at the same time you don’t want to give them a lot of press,” he said.
Bill Donald, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, condemned the alleged attack as unlawful extremist behavior.
“This is not only an attack on a family-owned and operated business; this is a domestic terrorist attack on our nation’s providers of food and fiber,” he said in a statement. “This extremist behavior goes above mere activism and the freedom of speech. These criminals are threatening lives and causing substantial economic harm.”
The Animal Agriculture Alliance, a national organization that supports livestock farmers, reminds producers that ALF is listed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as a domestic terrorist organization.
Although the ALF only acted as the communicator for the violent acts, the ag alliance said all extremist organizations share similar goals.
“While other extreme organizations may choose strategic action that does not include direct violence, they do share ALF’s ultimate goal: to eliminate American animal agriculture in entirety,” according to a media statement from the alliance. “This incident shines light on the need for the agricultural community to be able to protect itself from these senseless bullying tactics by those who seek to destroy the industry by any means.”