“Dominion” is a documentary produced by an Australian animal rights activist group that is coming to the U.S. to directly target modern animal agriculture. The film is set to be screened on Sept. 22 in Bozeman, Mont., and a quick view of the trailer indicates a strong negative stance about modern agricultural practices meant to skew public perceptions about where meat comes from.
The film was created from a collection of clips gathered from drone footage and undercover videos. Edited to look dark and sinister, the film’s agenda is clear without even getting past the opening credits. The overall theme of the film seems to suggest that people abuse, neglect and murder animals under the secrecy and privacy of enclosed barns. It’s a scary film, one that I’m leery about promoting on this platform, but I also feel that BEEF readers need to know about it so we can formulate a proper response.
With the scheduled screening set for this weekend in Bozeman, a panel discussion will also take place following the airing of the film. The panel includes Guy Alsentzer, a local Bozeman attorney who specializes in environmental law; Dr. Amy Fitzgerald, who specializes in green criminology, critical animal studies, gender studies and environmental sociology; and Dr. Lisa Kemmerer, professor of philosophy and religion at Montana State University Billings.
Quite striking is the absence of any panel member who is directly involved or part of the agricultural community.
So when and where is this screening taking place, and what can we do to balance the negative messages presented in this film? Here are the details: The screening will be hosted by the Ellen Theatre and starts at 4:30 p.m. MST with tickets available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
To balance the conversation, local producers will be hosting a positive agricultural rally on Main Street in Bozeman. The rally will begin at 3 p.m. MST and everyone is welcome to join to help spread the truth about positive animal production practices. More information about the rally can be found on the group’s Facebook page: Montanan’s Rally Against Dominion.
Upon learning about “Dominion,” I joined the Facebook group, and perhaps one of the best comments I read on that forum was from Bozeman ranchers, KRose Cattle Company. KRose writes:
“An anti-agriculture movie is being played at The Ellen Theatre in Bozeman this weekend. I agree that it's incredibly frustrating when people try to take down our livelihood, but I don't believe that anger, aggression, and name-calling is the best solution.
“So instead, I am going to tell you a little about my family and why we are the rule in agriculture and not the exception.
“Even today, there are four generations that are active on our ranch in Montana. My Grandmother, Father, Brother, and his young kids are all involved. The kids love going out and helping dad whenever they can.
“It's important to us as a family that we are raising products that fit the demand of the consumer. The consumer has spoken and told us they love eating animal protein, including beef, and they want to know more about where their food comes from.
“Instead of just getting angry and talking negatively about people who don't agree with us, we want to share our story.
“We know that every type of meal choice is fine. It doesn't matter if you eat meat or you claim to be vegan, the beautiful thing about living in America is you get to choose.
“But one thing we like to talk about in agriculture is voting with your checkbook.
“So if you are supportive of animal agriculture, I strongly encourage you to do two things:
“1. Today, use your checkbook and vote by purchasing an animal protein for dinner. For some of you, this might be going out for a steak dinner tonight or maybe feeding your kids chicken strips. As you enjoy your dinner, I'd love for you to share a picture in the comments so that we can see the direct correlation that we have with agriculture on a daily basis.
“2. I encourage you to share this post. If you believe in America's agriculture industry and its hard-working farmers and ranchers, it's important for you to voice that feeling. Share this post with your friends, because we are confident that we are the rule in agriculture.
"Our fourth generation family cares about every single product that we are producing for you. We are there when it's -10 or 100 degrees, or when we're tired and don't feel like working.
“The cattle get fed first, they have a nutritionist, and we work on a very strict vaccination protocol. We screen our truck drivers to make sure they are handling the cattle well because abuse in animal agriculture is the exception to the rule. Just because there is a bad egg, don't get the impression that the whole industry is bad. Rancher and farmers care about your food because it's the same food that is feeding their family and our friends.
“There is no way we would wake up every day and work our tails off (80 hours a week) to produce a product that wasn't good for the environment or nutritionally sound because we are putting it on our own table when we come in for dinner.”
So what can we do today to make a difference?
For one, I hate to make too big of a fuss about the film itself. Why give them the unnecessary publicity? However, if anyone is close to any of these screening locations, it would be awesome to be in attendance to try to balance out the conversation before and after the film is aired.
Additionally, be on the lookout for online discussions about this film and be prepared to share your own stories. It doesn’t pay to be defensive or to try to convince the vegan trolls to a different way of thinking. Simply share a photo, some beef facts or a personal anecdote about your family ranch business and walk away.
People in agriculture are truly some of the best out there, but we have a PR problem where our consumer doesn’t know who we are, and what they’re being told is dead wrong.
The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Farm Progress.