If you missed Part 1 of the interview with Sportsmen’s Alliance VP of Communications and Marketing Brian Lynn, check it our here.
Describe some of the commonalities between modern agriculture and hunting, and how challenges to each can overlap.
The agriculture and hunting industries have common enemies in animal-rights organizations, and we’re facing similar attacks. Animal-rights groups, primarily the Humane Society of the United States, are well funded, and can pick and choose their attacks and appeals – which can make it cost prohibitive for those impacted by their policies to challenge them. But not fighting those battles is even more costly in the long run.
Legislative attacks on the chicken, egg, and pork industries are similar to the attacks we see in the hunting industry on trappers, houndsmen, and bait hunters. The propaganda HSUS and others churn out sounds reasonable to the general public, but farmers, ranchers, and sportsmen, those who understand how these systems work and how all the pieces fit together in the big picture, know that the general public will suffer in the long run. Whether that’s higher costs at the grocery store to offset the costs of free-range chicken policies or increased bear attacks in the suburbs because bait and hound hunting was banned, at the end of the day, everyone is negatively impacted by these ideological policies.
And that’s what this is all about: advancing an ideology. Animal-rights organizations don’t want animals used in any capacity. And while I can go on all day about the ramifications and short-sightedness of this vision, which those of us in both industries understand, we face two primary challenges.
One, which is external, is educating the general public of the fallout they’ll face because of these policies. That can be very difficult because the public is easily swayed by the emotional rhetoric of animal-rights organizations, and our systems of operation – whether that’s modern agriculture practices or wildlife biology – are bigger systems than the simple policy being fought over in legislation. There are greater implications of how much room a chicken has to live in or what decreased success rates for bear hunters means to the ecosystem, and these aren’t easily condensed into catchy sound bites that grab headlines and television time.
The second challenge is internal. Both agriculture and hunting are being picked apart and we’re letting them do it. It’s a “death by a thousand cuts” tactic. Animal-rights organizations are going after “fringe” groups or specialized segments of both industries. Without a unified front, these threats materialize and become policy. Both businesses need to stick together and defend smaller segments within them from these attacks, even if the individual themselves aren’t affected by it. For the hunting community, that means deer hunters need to pay attention to legislation that limits groups, such as hound, bait, and predator hunters. Because deer hunters represent the vast majority of hunters out there, they can make a huge difference in how a vote is perceived and if it passes or not – and, ultimately, those small pieces have an impact on herd numbers and their future successes, too.
Further, the agriculture and hunting industries can work together to expose the animal-rights movement for what it is, and can help protect each other’s interests. It’s a natural alliance that has been around since hunters and gatherers became farmers.
You recently re-branded your organization with a new name, new logo, and new website. What were the motivations behind that?
As with most organizations, especially in this day and age, every now and then you need to stop and evaluate your vision, image, mission, audience, and how all of that is disseminated.
Our mission has not changed, and it won’t. Our sole reason for existing is to defend hunting, fishing, and trapping, and to defend it specifically from animal-rights and anti-hunting initiatives.
But looking at the big picture, and how people receive their information – which today is taking place more and more online – we felt a new look that matched the new energy and proactive actions we’re taking were warranted. The shortened name had more to do with online search engine results and confusion with other groups – everything from skating to insurance groups used the same acronym and there were inconsistencies between the use of U.S. and United States in old name. The changes we’ve made capitalize on the today’s use of technology and have updated the look and feel of the organization without changing the mission at all.
How does one get involved with Sportsmen’s Alliance as a member or volunteer?
While anyone can make tax-deductible donations to the foundation at any time, the Sportsmen’s Alliance has several types and levels of memberships.
We have individual memberships, which start at $25 and go up from there with increasing benefits and perks. The Sportsmen’s Alliance also has club, business and outfitter memberships for those groups and businesses motivated to protect not just their hobbies into the future, but also their livelihoods.
Talk about the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015 and what it will accomplish for hunters, anglers, and outdoor enthusiasts.
The Bi-Partisan Sportsmen’s Act is federal legislation that has several components to it, but all of which benefit hunters, anglers, and trappers. Working to get this federal legislation passed is a big deal. The Sportsmen’s Alliance has championed the open-until-closed portion of the bill for more than a decade. This language ensures hunting, fishing, and trapping are recognized as important activities on federal lands and that those lands are open to those activities unless warranted evidence suggests otherwise. This dovetails back into our desire to increase recruitment and retention of sportsmen, because without access to the lands fish and game call home, those activities can’t take place. Federal public lands are critically important to the future of hunting, angling, and trapping, and we must ensure sportsmen are afforded access.
What is the most important thing to consider about our outdoor heritage?
Hunting, fishing, and trapping are privileges. They can be taken away with a simple vote.
We have a saying at the Sportsmen’s Alliance: “Our heritage. Our fight.” Nobody else is going to defend our outdoor sports and heritage, except us. The same idea goes for agriculture.
As the country’s population continues to become more and more urbanized, and therefore more disconnected from their food’s production and the pastoral way of life, the more this becomes a rural versus urban interface. And that’s bad news because they have all the votes required to end our way life.
That’s why it’s so important for both the hunting and agriculture industries to unify across their disparate segments to protect the larger picture and their way of life by informing and educating those in the middle who largely support our activities but who don’t understand the bigger picture and ramifications of the animal-rights movement’s agenda.