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Viewpoint: Americans For Family Farmers group is masquerading as ag-friendly charity

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Michigan Farm Bureau issued a word of caution to its members about a group claiming to support family farms — one that, in reality, has deep ties to the Humane Society of the United States and the efforts backing California’s Proposition 12 law on animal spacing.

The group, called Americans For Family Farmers, recently sent requests to numerous Michigan farmers asking them to sign onto a letter to congressional leaders, calling for them to oppose the Exposing Agricultural Trade Suppression Act.

According to the National Law Review, the EATS Act would “grant a private right of action allowing affected persons to seek an injunction against any state or local regulation that imposes a production or manufacturing standard on agricultural products that is more restrictive than a standard at the federal level.”

While the message farmers received from Americans For Family Farmers touts a “fairer playing field” and supporting “farmer-friendly laws,” there’s much more beneath the surface, says Michigan Farm Bureau Livestock and Dairy Specialist Ernie Birchmeier.

“It’s critical for people to know exactly what it is they’re signing onto when they receive requests like this one,” Birchmeier said. “Taking a closer look at the history of the person leading Americans For Family Farmers shows a pattern of support for legislation that is not only unfriendly to farmers but has been devastating for agriculture as a whole.”

Related: LA Times’ applause for Prop 12 is nothing short of anti-animal agriculture activism

In documents filed with the state of California, Americans For Family Farmers states its purpose to “advocate nation-wide farming issues to combat the negative impacts of CAFOs,” which is not mentioned in the recent messages to farmers.

The emails to farmers were signed by Donna Krudwig, the president of Americans For Family Farmers, which was formed in June of 2021. Americans For Family Farmers is based in California and has no recognizable social media presence or following, but the organization’s name alone can convey a false sense of legitimacy.

“This is a classic case of a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” Birchmeier said, “and it’s imperative that anyone who receives a request for support from the group sees them for what they really are — an animal rights group parading as an farm-friendly charity.”

Krudwig was named as a “key volunteer” in the HSUS 2017 Animal Protection Campaign and was featured in the Humane Society Legislative Fund magazine, where she was credited with collecting more than 7,000 signatures to place Prop 12 on the ballot in California.

Prop 12 requires that animals held in buildings, including veal calves, laying hens and breeding sows, “be housed in confinement systems that comply with specific standards for freedom of movement, cage-free design and minimum floor space.”

The law also bans the sale of eggs, pork, and veal in California if they are not produced to the standards of the state’s space requirements.

In an article written in 2018, Krudwig criticizes PETA for not going far enough in supporting Prop 12, saying the group’s backing of similar laws in Europe don’t do enough to protect animals.

Americans For Family Farmers does not list Krudwig on its website, and instead only offers a generic email address to contact the group.

“Michigan Farm Bureau urges our members, and all farmers, not to sign this letter,” Birchmeier said.

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