It may seem highly unlikely that Julian Castro will get the Democratic nomination for the presidency, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be concerned about his animal welfare plan.

Cleverly called The PAW Plan (with PAW standing for Protecting Animals and Wildlife), Castro’s plan takes a look at advancing animal welfare and protecting endangered species. When taken at face value, some parts of the plan might seem like good ideas, but when a deeper look is taken, it seems much of the plan is little more fanatical and possibly even scary to those involved in agriculture.

On the Castro campaign’s website, the plan is laid out in a fashion that looks to be taken from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) playbook.

PAW conjures up images of dogs and cats, and the first thing you see on the website is a picture of a sad dog behind bars, which of course tugs at the heart strings of so many people. But like so many fundraising campaigns from HSUS and other like-minded organizations, it also takes on animal agriculture.

In a pull quote in bold, black print, the words “Hundreds of thousands of cats and dogs are in need of a loving home, and hundreds of millions of livestock and poultry suffer inhumane conditions.”

Scroll a little lower and Castro gets into animal agriculture, although he uses a familiar, unpleasant and cliché phrase: “Strengthen animal welfare standards in factory farms.”

Yes, a man who uses the phrase “factory farms,” wants to be our president.

The Castro camp, on the website, says: “Broad reforms are needed in agriculture to support independent family farms, raise labor standards and adopt sustainable practices. Animal welfare is directly linked to healthy and sustainable farming practices and is a key component of our broader efforts to combat climate change.”

The three main tenets of the farm animal welfare plan are:

  1. “Establish minimum standards for animal welfare in agriculture, including minimum space standards for livestock and poultry, that improve healthy and sustainable farming practices.”
    Hmmm. Doesn’t that sound a little like the animal rights groups’ pushes for Global Animal Partnership standards in broiler production, cage-free eggs and crate-free pork?
  2. “Support funding for farms to participate in independent animal welfare certification programs to improve transparency of agricultural practices, with publicly available inspection reports to inform consumers.”
    That idea is one I referred to as a little more sound. Transparency is a good thing, so if administered properly, funding for such programs could also be good.
  3. “Oppose efforts by states to institute ‘ag-gag’ laws that silence whistleblowers, limit transparency, and have repeatedly been ruled unconstitutional."
    This one is always a mixed bag. Ag-gag laws have their merits as they discourage farm trespassing or obtaining employment under false pretenses to harm animal agriculture. The downside can be argued that if animal welfare practices are initiated as they should be, the need for ag-gag laws would be lessened. However, it appears Castro isn’t keeping an objective mind about this, and is ignoring the notion that often situations can be created or fabricated by activists, and that instead of stopping the animal mistreatment, activists have a reputation of instead letting it continue and keeping the camera rolling.

Why we should take note

As I indicated before, it seems highly unlikely Castro will be the U.S. president once the 2020 election occurs. He barely met the minimum threshold to participate in the next debate.

However, we need to keep in mind that Castro, at 44, is young as far as politicians are concerned. He probably won’t be going away any time soon.

And knowing that he has already landed some pretty impressive political jobs like the Mayor of San Antonio and the U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, we can only assume other positions of influence will follow.

A person of influence who is seemingly influenced by animal rights groups? That’s not what we need.