Court rebukes PETA on subpoenas

By Michael Marsh, CEO, Western United Dairymen

This week, Superior Court Judge John Connelly filed a ruling and order in the case of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) v. Karen Ross, CDFA Secretary. PETA had objected to claims made by producers in California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) advertising that dairy families care for the livestock that support them and their dairies. While not yet completely dismissing the PETA action as frivolous, the Court issued a sharp rebuke to the vegan activist organization.

Last fall PETA terrorized California dairy families by deploying a cadre of process servers across the state to traipse onto farms armed with subpoenas. These subpoenas sought detailed proprietary and confidential records pertaining to the producers’ on-farm animal welfare practices. PETA had used the Animal Care Manual published by the National Dairy Farm Program as its reference for the demanded business records. PETA asserted that these records were necessary to establish that dairy families were indeed taking care of their investment in cattle and calves.

The dairy producers objected and refused to comply with these outrageous demands. CDFA, the state Attorney General, and attorneys for the CMAB objected as well and went to court on the families’ behalf. PETA’s subpoenas were harassing and inappropriate. The Court found that PETA itself had amazingly claimed the subpoenaed documents were “anecdotal and hearsay evidence [that] is not probative to demonstrate the existence of the alleged industry-wide practices and standards touted by the Board in the challenged advertising.”

So why did these animal rights terrorists issue the subpoenas and come after the dairy families? Their goal is clearly not animal welfare. Their goal is to put dairies out of business and harass the farmers who care for their cows. And, let’s not forget that terrorists rarely let anything (such as truth and justice or the law) stand in their way.

This week’s ruling comes as federal and state law enforcement agencies are still searching for the criminals who set fire to and destroyed 14 trucks and trailers at the Harris Ranch operation near Coalinga. The Animal Liberation Front claimed credit for this attack. These terrorists didn’t come armed with subpoenas, but allegedly with fire bombs set off by electrical timers under cover of darkness. Thankfully no people were killed, this time.
Dairy families must be vigilant as to the comings and goings on their farms. As they refused to do in the PETA case discussed here, producers should not simply roll over and play dead for hateful vegan activists such as Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and PETA who want to force them and their families out of business.

Instead, dairy families should continue that American tradition of fighting for what we know is a lawful activity: Production of a wholesome and healthy food. Our position is clear: Standing shoulder to shoulder against terrorists is better than lying down in the face of terrorism.