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This Is What's Wrong With 4-H

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Posted September 8, 2016 by Emily Rohr

What did you do this summer? Did ya go on vacation? Go to an awesome concert? Get a new video game? Did ya make a new friend, hang out with them all summer, and then do nothing to stop them from being killed? Unless you’re a member of 4-H, I bet you didn’t do that last one.

4H Cow

Summer may be winding down, but state and county fairs are still in full swing. It’s at these fairs that members of 4-H, Future Farms of America (FFA), and other agricultural programs are encouraged to exhibit sheep, goats, pigs, cows, and other animals who are typically destined for one of two fates: to be sold at auction for slaughter or to be used as “breeders” (and likely sent to slaughter later, once they’re no longer profitable).

"David weighed in at 1290 lbs and sold for $4 a pound at the 4H auction."

“David weighed in at 1290 lbs and sold for $4 a pound at the 4H auction.”

This post doesn’t mention that David was more than just his flesh—he was someone who wanted to live, just like you do.

4-H encourages members to raise animals for “projects.” Even in the beginning stages of these projects, members are instructed to “identify parts of [their] animal and cuts of meat.” They learn how to care for the animals during this time, but let’s not forget that they’re being taught how to take care of them in a way that will bring in the most profit and win a competition. Instead of teaching kids that animals are individuals who have unique personalities, needs, and feelings, 4-H teaches them to view fellow animals as nothing more than a way to make money.

Read that again: "Clipping shows off the goat's muscles better, which is the part of the animal that becomes food."

Read that again: “Clipping shows off the goat’s muscles better, which is the part of the animal that becomes food.”

Near the end of the project, 4-H members typically take their new friend to the local county or state fair to compete against other animals. The goal of the competition is to see which animal is worth the most money—and therefore deemed the “winner”—based on his or her flesh, fur, milk, skin, or ability to breed the largest animals. Yep, you got that right: It’s all about profit. But FYI, animals don’t produce their flesh, fur, milk, skin, or babies for humans. 

4H Cow Costume

After the fair, most animals are taken to auctions. This is where 4-H members betray their “friends” and celebrate as the animals are sold to the highest bidders, who typically take them to be slaughtered so that their flesh and other body parts can be sold.

4h turkey

 

Students should be taught to stand up for their friends, not stand by quietly as they’re sent to be killed. It doesn’t have to be this way—no one needs to eat animals. 4-H could easily stop this cruel practice and focus instead on some of the morally right things that it already promotes, like its gardening, expressive arts, and leadership programs. These are activities that we could all feel good about supporting.

4h Beans

4-H should focus on some of the morally right things that it already promotes, like its gardening, expressive arts, and leadership programs.

If you’re a member of 4-H who’s raising an animal for a project, don’t let your friend be killed! Stand up and say something—the animal’s life depends on it. There are tons of stories of teens in the FFA or 4-H who took a stand and did the compassionate thing. Pledge your head, heart, hands, and health to helping the planet, yourself, and your fellow living beings by going vegan, and speaking up for all animals!

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