Misinformed and Misrepresented: An Attack on 4-H and FFA.

Before reading on please reference the following links:

http://eatocracy.cnn.com/2011/06/23/does-4-h-desensitize-kids-to-killing/

I'm all for treating animals in a humane manner, but questioning programs that engage and empower youth, that's just too much.

http://eatocracy.cnn.com/2011/06/21/55-five-reasons-to-buy-from-your-local-4-h/

When I first caught this article on the CNN “Eatocracy” page, blood immediately starting pumping more quickly through my veins. I believe many, if not all, agriculturists have had a run in at some point with vegans, vegetarians, or simply animal rights activists, but for me, this was the first time myself or my family was directly under attack. I (following in the footsteps of my father and brother) was a member of both 4-H and FFA, raising livestock (cattle) to be slaughtered on multiple occasions. After reading the comments posted by some in response to the first post (Does 4-H Desensitize Kids to Killing?) I was horrified at the latest example of misinformation and detachment from agriculture our society is suffering from. Not only were commentors voicing their opinion on vegetarianism and veganism, they also were discrediting 4-H!

How can we stand by as this epidemic transpires? The answer is, WE CAN’T. We as agriculturists, and even those who are not agriculturists but are prepared to stand up for a large group that positively impacts America’s Youth across the nation, must continue to analytically and factually combat these instances of misinformation.

According to current estimates, the average American is two generations removed from farming. As this figure rises, it is our responsibility to do our best to properly educate those around us of the origin of our food. Perhaps even more importantly than educating our society is the manner in which it is done. We must use scientifically based arguments regarding the humane treatment of animals and the importance of meat tissue and its nutrients in our diet. Through sharing our knowledge and arguments remember that the key to being influential is to be patient, ask questions and listen first, then share factual information in a non-aggressive manner, but rather in assertive and understanding language. As I recently told a high school classmate experimenting with vegetarianism:

“I align with your position on treating animals with respect and properly handling carcasses and meat products to prevent disease, however, I’d ask that you hear both sides of the issue before deciding whether or not to change your lifestyle to restrict your intake of animal products as much of the information out there (in the world) is negative.”

It is our job to tell the story in a positive light, factually and without emotions boiling over. I challenge YOU to write to your Congress Man or Congress Woman and relay to them the positive messages that you and your family have experienced through 4-H, FFA, and life in a rural, semi-rural, or even urban agricultural endeavor.

Thank you for your time, support, and effort in the ongoing battle for agricultural education and empowerment.

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One Comment on “Misinformed and Misrepresented: An Attack on 4-H and FFA.”

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