WASHINGTON – A letter was sent on Dec. 21 by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association to US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) opposing nominating Judge Benita Pearson to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. Pearson’s connections to the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), an organization that advocates giving animals the same legal rights as humans, would make it difficult for her to be an impartial judge in cases regarding actions by animal rights activists, said Colin Woodall, NCBA vice president of government affairs

“Beef cattle producers face enough challenges today from agenda-driven activist organizations whose sole purpose is to end animal agriculture and change the 234-year old fabric of our great nation,” he said. “The last thing they need is a judge furthering this agenda for well-funded animal-rights activist organizations like ALDF and the Humane Society of the US by legislating from the bench.

There is no room for personal ideology in the court room, Woodall said. “Given Judge Pearson’s history of animal-rights work, at the very least, we urge the Senate leadership to block her nomination in order for all Senators to do more research into her background on animal rights and how this may affect her duties as an impartial judge,” he added.

Woodall said multiple generations of cattlemen and women have made a commitment to properly care for livestock. NCBA has producer-passed policy recognizing the difference between animal welfare and animal rights.

According to NCBA policy, animal rights is a position taken by those who believe that animals have legal and moral rights similar to humans. Animal welfare is the reasonable care of all animals, i.e. good animal husbandry practices. Woodall said, US beef cattle producers have been world leaders regarding cattle care, which has been proven by their policies; their code of ethics for marketing cattle; and their extensive industry-led proactive programs.

“Taking care of cattle is our producers’ first and last thought each day,” he said. “Long before animal activism in the US became a popular ideological social activity, beef producers not only did the right thing daily, but they also created programs based on decades of practical experience, research and the most up-to-date science and education to continually improve cattle care. Those are facts that groups like ALDF and many other activist organizations conveniently ignore.”

Judge Pearson’s membership in several animal-rights groups; her work with ALDF and her answers to Senate Judiciary Committee members' questions related to animal rights cause great concern for cattle producers across the country who work day in and day out caring for their animals and producing a safe food supply, Woodall said.

“We hope Majority Leader Reid and Minority Leader McConnell will take our concerns seriously and block the nomination of Judge Pearson,” he concluded.