He proposes free college tuition and healthcare. He calls for the biggest minimum wage hike in history. Yet, some liberals think presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders is not progressive enough. Not until he saves the chickens.
Vegan members of the animal-rights group Direct Action Everywhere think so. They criticize the senator’s pro-farming and pro-agribusiness voting record. Last week, they interrupted Sanders during a town hall meeting in Kenosha, Wis. The group held up a black banner reading “Animals Want to Live.”
Member Matt Johnson believes that by supporting legislation protecting farms, Sanders is defending an industry responsible for slaughtering animals. In an interview with VICE news, Johnson said that farmers contribute to the deaths of 9 billion animals per year. He says that’s 99 percent of animals killed in the US per year.
In 2014, Sanders supported the Farm Bill. This legislation is the federal government’s main agribusiness-policy tool. It aims to protect farmers. Sanders supported the bill to help Vermont’s dairy farmers, who were unable to meet production costs and the demand for low in-store prices, according to his campaign.
“The ultimate question is whether we should be harming another animal for our own benefit,” Matt told VICE. “There’s no perfect way to avoid it, the way the system currently stands. But if we make a personal, cultural, and legislative shift, we can achieve it. It’s just a matter of priority.”
In an article he wrote for Huffington Post, Johnson called out Sanders for supporting the 2006 Animal Enterprise Act. This legislation criminalizes acts taken to damage or “interfere with the operations of an animal enterprise.”
Nonetheless, Johnson says he supports Sanders. However, he believes Sanders needs to be held accountable for supporting the farming industry, especially after he got a perfect score from the Humane Society Legislative Fund in 2015.
“… every time someone tells us that they #feelthebern, we think of the animals feeling the burn of hot irons searing their property status into their skin,” Johnson wrote in the Huff Post article. “We think of the millions of chickens burned alive in boiling water at the slaughterhouse each year. And we think of the mother cows with the burning desire to protect their calves from being kidnapped by the dairy industry.”