Monday, April 12, 2010

4-H The Latest Battleground Over Animal Care

04/11/2010 by By Gary Truitt, Hoosier Ag Today

The 4-H program is one of the best youth leadership development organizations in the world. Now I admit I am biased, being a 4H leader and having two of my children go through the program. So I guess that is why my green clover turned red when I learned that the National 4-H organization had climbed in bed with one of the most radical and insidious animal rights organizations in the country. Furthermore, when this issue came to light and the farm community expressed outrage, the National leadership refused to back down. This continued association has allowed the Humane Society of the United States to use the name and reputation of 4-H to advance its radical agenda. Despite demands from local and state 4-H leaders, the national organization has turned a deaf ear to the interests and concerns of agriculture.

During the National 4-H Congress in Washington last month, a breakout session was held on animal care. That is not unusual, but the sponsoring organization certainly was. HSUS and American agriculture are locked in a pitched battle on the local, state, and national levels over the future of animal agriculture. So, to have them involved with an organization like 4-H, with deep roots in farming, does not smell right. At the end of the session, the 25 youth that participated in the workshop were provided with resource material that included HSUS propaganda. The 35-page HSUS Mission Humane Action Guide, which encourages youth to set up animal protection clubs and devotes pages to researching animal issues, “making your voice heard,” and raising funds. If you throw a party, the material suggests showing videos from the HSUS Web site and serving vegan refreshments. And just about every page plugs information available on the HSUS Web site. “You’ll also learn about lobbying, one of the most effective ways of making change for animals,” says the guide’s message from CEO Wayne Pacelle.

When word of this event began to leak out in the ag media, the reaction was quick and virulent. Instead of admitting they had made a seriously bad mistake, the National 4-H organization defended their association with HSUS, “The workshop was approved by the planning committee because the proposal aligned with the goals of the 4-H conference and did not present any indication of anti-animal agriculture views or positions.” Leaders on the state and local levels took strong exception with the position of the national office. OSU Extension Director Keith Smith issued a statement April 2 saying Ohio’s 4-H program was “very distressed that this happened at a national 4-H event,” and that the Ohio 4-H organization had expressed that dismay to the 4-H National Headquarters and USDA-NIFA, “The primary concern about this distribution is that HSUS is well known for its anti-animal agriculture views and positions, and 4-H has a long tradition of providing education in the animal sciences, which includes the dimension of positive animal welfare.” Individuals blasted the National 4-H Facebook fan page with even stronger statements. One poster called it an “irresponsible decision.”
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