In the summer of 1981, Farm Animal Rights Movement (FARM) helped launch the U.S. animal rights movement by bringing its leading authorities together at a conference in Allentown, PA. With very few exceptions, FARM continued the movement’s national conferences for decades following.
In later years, the Animal Rights National Conference grew into the world’s largest and longest-running animal rights event. It attracted nearly 2,000 attendees representing 90 organizations from a dozen countries, with 100 exhibitors and 170 speakers presenting in 80 sessions.
The Animal Rights National Conference has always been dedicated to the vision that animals have the right to live free from human exploitation. It provides a forum where the relative merits of the multiple paths, strategies, and tactics for advancing that vision may be aired in an atmosphere of mutual respect. The conference offered eye-opening glimpses into animal exploitation, useful activist guidance, encouraging inspiration, and unparalleled networking opportunities.
The typical four-day program featured five concurrent tracks:
- animal abuses
- personal activism
- group organizing
- event management
- and technical innovations
Reach out to us if you’re interested in past conference audio recordings.
Well attended morning and evening plenary sessions addressed issues of general interest and have featured some of the movement’s most prominent thought leaders.
The individual hour-long workshops featured 2-3 speakers and a moderator, leaving ample time for Q&A and discussion. Workshops on controversial issues invited participation by all attendees, with no formal presentations.
Each day began with a choice of physical workouts and ends with a networking reception offering an amazing variety of plant-based snacks. Saturday evening ended with a three-course banquet followed by a lively charity auction and awards ceremony. Over the decades FARM presented awards for outstanding grassroots and youth activism as well as the year’s inductees to the U.S. Animal Rights Hall of Fame. The conference ended with a celebratory party on Sunday evening as attendees unwound and reflected back on this life-changing experience.
Open to the general public, more than a hundred organizations and food, crafts, and merchandise vendors exhibit at each conference. Other program features have included film screenings, entertainment, meditation sessions, special interest meetings, and “speed touting,” where attendees have one minute to address all attendees with animal rights news, personal opinions, announcements, and other points of interest to the movement.
Each year, the conference was held in a large hotel offering discounted rooms and crowd-pleasing plant-based meals. A friendly hospitality staff welcomed conference attendees, provided badges and program booklets, and answered any questions. The program staff operated the program sessions. Some attendees worked off their registration fees by helping with operational activities.
Host cities have alternated between Washington, DC and Los Angeles.