Anti-Ag Group Pulls Wool Over Maryland Legislature’s Eyes

Anti-Ag Group Pulls Wool Over Maryland Legislature’s Eyes

DAVIDSONVILLE, MD – Jamie Raley, President of Maryland Farm Bureau, recently published an op-ed in The Delmarva Farmer regarding an anti-ag group, Americans for Family Farmers, that has misrepresented Maryland Farm Bureau members support on certain bills without their awareness or approval.

Emboldened by victories in other states, certain special interest groups targeted our state as one prime to enact a ban on caged eggs. At the start of the Maryland General Assembly, legislators introduced bills to ban caged egg operations and mandate that only cage free eggs could be bought in Maryland. 

As farmers, we are unfortunately too familiar with misguided organizations who claim to know how to do our jobs better than us. That made it all the more confusing when a certain group, Americans for Family Farmers, testified in favor of banning caged-egg operations in a letter signed by over 100 farms in Maryland. Among the signers of the letter included many Maryland Farm Bureau members, including a former County Farm Bureau President who we were particularly surprised to see.

Needless to say, we reached out to this member and they had no recollection of agreeing to support this legislation, nor signing onto this letter. Tipped off by this deceitful practice, we reached out to at least 11 more signers who were Farm Bureau members to confirm their intent to be represented in this testimony. Much to our surprise, none of them were aware of their name listed in the testimony, nor were they familiar with the organization that so proudly included them in the letter. 

Shocked by this finding, we looked more into this organization and found the same exact situation happened in other states, like Michigan. The president of Americans for Family Farmers, happens not to be a farmer, but a vegan activist with close ties to the Humane Society who once claimed that PETA was not going far enough with anti-ag legislation.

It’s important to note that the Maryland Farm Bureau is not against cage-free eggs, in fact many of our member’s farms are home to cage-free operations. We opposed this bill because we support all farmers and believe that the market should decide what should be sold in Maryland, not heavy-handed regulation. When our grassroots members brought this to the attention of their legislators, as well as dangerous implications relating to biosecurity and food security, this bill was effectively killed in committee. It was truly a testament to the grassroots strength of our members.

In contrast, Americans for Family Farms used the names of Maryland farmers without their awareness or consent to try to pass legislation harmful to farmers in Maryland. Our concern over this testimony comes from the fact that interest groups like this are not trying to improve the quality of life for animals, but they are actually trying to end animal agriculture as we know it. Moreover, many supporters and legislators of this bill cited this group’s disingenuous testimony to claim the agricultural communities support for the movement.

Sadly, this isn’t the first time this group has submitted testimony related to this bill. Moving forward, our legislators should keep an eye open to certain groups submitting testimony on pertinent legislation in Maryland. In order to protect our local farmers, vigilance against deceptive tactics and misrepresentation should be of utmost importance.

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