Does 4-H desensitize kids to killing?
June 23rd, 2011
11:00 AM ET
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What do farmers have to say about agriculture issues? Hear it straight from them in Farmers With Issues.

4-H stands for "Head, heart, hands, health" and apparently a fifth - for "haters."

To many, 4-H Clubs are all about nurturing sweet little calves, adorable children winning ribbons, urban garden patches and proud future farmers grooming prized pigs for show. To others, it's a calculated system for turning the youth of America into cold, unfeeling animal killers.

When Eatocracy ran a 5@5 feature with chef Kelly Liken on the topic of Five Reasons to Buy from Your Local 4-H earlier this week, we quickly identified within the comments two distinct perceptions of the organization - which was originally set up by the United States Department of Agriculture to train the rural youth of America in hands-on skills like agriculture and raising animals. One was that 4-H promotes responsible animal husbandry and the cultivation of food resources in a responsible, ethical way and the other was that it serves to desensitize children to the suffering of animals.

Here's what commenters to that article had to say:

In cold blood

I don't and would never support the 4-H. This group helps desensitize youngsters into having no emotional attachment to animals raised for food. For those who say no one should have attachment to animals raised for food, I say "of course". This is how the meat industry stays in business. If children are raised to love all animals and not try to see them as products, they would not be interested in seeing them killed. "Listening to the auctioneer and seeing how excited the children get when their animal is purchased is an incredibly fulfilling experience."

Really? Incredibly fulfilling experience. You mean knowing the animal that trusted you from birth is off to be mistreated before being slaughtered! That's fulfilling? Maybe that's because the 4-H has successfully desensitized these children who may have once be appalled by this. It's simply horrific. Shame on you 4-H for what you do to animals and to children. - Heather King

Education, not desensitization

What 4-H does do is promote responsible animal husbandry and the cultivation of food resources in a responsible, ethical way. I accept your position that any killing of animals for food is, in your position, not ethical or moral, however most of us are omnivores and I for one would rather that those producing the meat I choose to eat do so in a humane and ethical way. I respect your position, but I would also hope that you would rather see people brought up to understand, and therefore demand, that there an ethical way to treat an animal even if that animal's eventual purpose is the nourishment of a human being.

Desensitization is the wrong word–education is the right word. These kids (I was one) are not at all desensitized to the process–rather, they are educated about proper raising and care of these animals. Not only was I a member, but growing up we also purchased meat and produce from 4H and FFA members–talk about locally sourced! We could be confident in the quality, origin, and raising of these products in a way we can rarely be in a supermarket. - Value rather than desensitization

A lasting impact

Have you ever been at a 4-H auction? Most of the younger kids end up crying after their animal gets bought and not donated back. As they grow older, they wrap their head around the idea, but when they're first starting out they have a hard time accepting it. It doesn't mean they're "desensitized" to it, it's the fact they they've matured and understand that animal's purpose more as time goes on. - Brianna

The circle of life

Someone asked earlier in the thread how many 4-H kids had actually seen an animal slaughtered. In my club back home (rural Sierra Nevadas), the answer was ALL OF US. We toured the packing houses where our animals would later be slaughtered (note packing HOUSES, as these buildings housed perhaps thirty head at an outside estimate, nowhere near large enough to call a "processing plant"), examined carcasses, viewed the taking of animals lives and the bloodletting afterwards, and were given briefings on the saws and tools used. This while spending hours a day bathing, training, feeding and cleaning up after our own still very alive animals. - 4-H fo'sho'

The value of life

It is really so unevolved. Why are people proud that the kids are crying as they lead their animals onto the trailer to be killed for food? You are teaching them that relationships are disposable. That animals are disposable. NOT A GOOD LESSON, and these poor animals raised as pets are off to the slaughterhouse where they will be tortured before they die. - Kathy

It keeps them off the streets

Small scale food-animal raisers aren't cold blooded killers, they're making money doing what they enjoy doing. If anyone is desensitized to animal life, go to Youngstown [ed: where the commenter grew up] and talk to all the thugs on the street that grew up around murders happening weekly. THEN you'll find someone who doesn't value human or animal life.

If I have kids, you bet they'll be in 4-H. I'd rather see them doing that than doing what most of the people I grew up with did. Kids deserve more of a chance than what drugs, crime and partying can offer them. - Brianna

It should be noted that animal husbandry and sales are only a portion of what 4-H Clubs do. Other former members spoke of "arts and crafts like pottery, painting; outdoor activities like camping, canoeing, kayaking, rock climbing, and...skills like woodworking and leather-working" as well as horse showing and "cooking, photography, jewelry making" and others. Still, with the issue of animal raising and slaughter on the table, we'd like to know what you think in the comments below.

Previously - A day two pigs would die: ethical slaughter

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Filed under: Animal Rights • Buzz • Farmers with Issues • Food Politics • From the Comments • Local Food • Vegan

soundoff (1,645 Responses)
  1. Holly Spangler

    I joined 4-H as a young person, I showed cattle, I grew up and married a farmer and we now raise cattle on a farm in Illinois. We are counting the days until our oldest child is abls to join 4-H, and so is she. In all my years, I have never been involved with an organization that cares so deeply for teaching young people and for mentoring them through scientific and vocational skills the way 4-H does. Essentially, the argument that's being played out in this comment secion is among those who believe in eating meat and those who don't, and the 4-H organization is being drug into it. Please, if you have questions about 4-H, ask a 4-H member or leader or someone who is actually involved with the organization. But don't misrepresent a an organization that is the fabric of our rural communities based on your idealogical beliefs. 4-H teaches community service, learning, public speaking, how to conduct a meeting and how to operate within a group of people in a public setting. It teaches teamwork. It teaches small engines, model rocketry, food preservation, cookie baking and animal care. It teaches hog and cattle production, livestock judging and it gives kids the chance to be successful in a non-athletic setting. And it's an activity that an entire family can participate in – how many organizations can say that? Let's keep in mind what 4-H really is: it's good for families, it's good for communities, it's good for kids.

    June 23, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
  2. Ana

    Um...if you can't handle seeing an animal killed, maybe you shouldn't be eating them. Too many people just pretend that meat grows on supermarket shelves so they don't have to think about an animal dying – it's pathetic and cowardly.

    June 23, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
  3. 4H/FFA Alumni

    Have you ever been to a local 4H or FFA show. These kids get very attached to their animals and have a since of pride for what they have raised. These kids know that their animals are going to help feed America and are prideful for the animals they have raised. Having raised show animals for 11 years I am very aware of the emotional attachment that you get with these animals. You learn their personalities and get very attached. For younger kids this is then hard to understand why they have to leave but it is also a good life lesson as everything that you have in life will one day leave. As they get older they then learn and have an easier time coping with why these animals have to leave and it doesnt bother them as much on the outside. Its not " desensitized" its reality and learning that hard work and dedication is required for anything in life that is worthwhile. It makes me sad that their are so many people out there just like heather who never had to work a day in their life and have all these negative views about things they have never even been a part of. 4H is a way of life and a very good one at that. Its all part of one have ever made it out of this world alive and it helps these childeren apprecieat the fact that that animal gave up something so that we can survive, and they are taught to be gratefull for that product. Why would they mistreat and "poison" something they themselves are willing to ingest?
    So until you fully understand the organization don't go ranting on how these kids are being trained not to care for animlas. These animlas are their best friends and part of the joys of 4H is being able to get new animals every year and learn something new about them. Besides what else are you going to do with a 1300# steer...thats what they are made for is to feed people...where else do you think you get your food it magically appears on the shelves. Even if you are a vegeterian...some farmer out there grew the food that you like to eat and if you are a vegetarian your eating the animals food also....4H and FFA have been a big part of my life for my 21 years of living. And I would also like to clarify that I am also a female who has been involved with raising livestock all my life and charish the memories and friendships that I have gained through these organizations.
    I am also currently going to college to become an agriculture teacher to help these kids grow up to understand and respect the very things this land was founded upon...if you dont like it leave this is how we have grown as a society and the everyday ranchers and farmers are not givin enough respect for the things they do to put food on your tables. So yes stock shows will always be a big part of my life and what I do, that is the biggest reason I chose this for my carreer path cause everyone knows its not for the money.
    Also true country kids will be some of the most polite well mannered, well raised kids that you will come across we are still raised with morals and 4H and FFA are big parts of helping shape these kids into members of society that will make a difference!

    June 23, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
  4. descarado

    And now the Obamatron zombies and CNN are attacking 4-H! LOL! Guess country kids don't figure into the same Obama equation as gays, blacks, Muslims, 24/7 Sarah Palin Syndrome Sufferers and radical feminists.

    June 23, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
  5. Jake

    This is complete and utter horseshit. I did 4-H every year but two growing up. I may be slightly desensitized to animal death, but it's also because I hunt, fish, and had to protect our animals from harm. Every single year on the day that my sheep went into the truck to be sent to the slaughterhouse, I bawled my eyes out. You can ask my mom. She was always there for me. It was so sad, but it made me a better person today, rather than some snivelly little writer who sits on his computer and spouts bullshit about how 4-H is bad for kids. All of my friends that I did 4-H with will agree that 4-H is one of the best programs for growing kids. It teaches many valuable life lessons. Life isn't fair and people and animals die.

    My uncle would bring his calves to our house so they could grow in our pasture. Then, when they were old enough, they were sent to the slaughter to be made into some of the best tasting burger and steak I've ever had. If the author of this post wants to talk about desensitizing people, then how about the movie industry, where movies like Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Saw 17,215 are being made. I don't care for these myself, but I'm not going to demonize the movie industry just because I don't like what they're doing.

    I've had to put animals down too; and bury them for that matter. We had a sick cat that showed up, and we shot it in the head to put it out of its misery. Another time, while my dad was away in the middle of the Michigan winter, I had to bury one of our hunting dogs that we loved very much. I, again, cried like a baby. But she had to be buried, and I had to do it. 4-H teaches kids how to be mature in a world of sadness. I actually get picked on a very small amount because of my upbringing, since I go to a school in the "big city," but I wouldn't trade anything for growing up doing 4-H.

    June 23, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
  6. 4-H Alumni

    4-H is not only about raising animals. It teaches youth about leadership, enhances life skils and helps youth develop socially. 4-H members learn to be leaders and active citizens. In this world we live in today, it keeps children active and off the streets. Our society needs more programs like 4-H to serve the youth. There are so many choices of projects to participate in. 4-H taught me how to sew and prepare nutritional meals. I also learned how to keep record books and I made money from selling my projects that I saved and later used for college. Not everyone is athletically talented, but are very well deserving of scholarships for college just the same and 4-H provides this opportunity. Many, many youths have been afforded an opportunity to attend college because of scholarships they have received through 4-H. 4-H also offers a multitude of volunteer activities for youth as well as adults. I encourage you to search the web for the 4-H program in your state and locate a local 4-H club and attend some meanings and find out first hand what 4-H is really about. I think you would be pleasantly surprised of what you will find...dedicate youth conducting the meetings, discussing business or fund raising plans or ways to improve their communities or help their neighbors. I think you will be even more surprised of what you won't find. One more thing, until you have had to hunt and kill for your own shouldn't go around judging others just because they eat meat.

    June 23, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
  7. Nichole Georgia 4-H'er

    I also love how many former and CURRENT 4-H'ers are standing up against this. As a member of GEORGIA 4-H we have already seen how our state's 4-H'ers can rally together. Earlier this year, we as Georgia 4-H were threatened to be cut from the State's budget. Meaning, we were in danger of not existing anymore. Every 4-H'er IN THE STATE rallied together and sent letters, emails, phone calls, anything to get people's attention on why they should keep 4-H. Clearly, if thousands of children care enough to do that, 4-H must not be too terribly horrible!

    June 23, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
  8. 8year4Her

    I am absolutely outraged at this article. I have been in 4H for eight years and it has completely changed my life. 4-H teaches youth hundreds of life skills. 6,834,338 youth participated in 4-H activities just last year. 4-H is found in 82 countries spanning the globe. Personally, I have served on Food and Fashion Boards, Junior Fairboard, Junior Horse Council, Camp Counselor, Junior Leadership club member, and tons of other activities within those things. The truth of the matter is, people don't understand where their food comes from, how much agriculture impacts our lives, and what would happen if 4H didn't exist. I'm sure that the left wing nut job that wrote this article doesn't know what it feels like to exhibit at a county fair or know how good it feels to have sweat dripping down your back from a hard days work in the field. To put such a broad and negative blanket on 4H is absolutely ridiculous. 4-H Alumni have gone on to create new fields of biotechnology so you can have meats and grains on the table for your family. Faith Hill, Dolly Parton, David Letterman, and ironicly, your very own Nancy Grace were all 4-Hers. No matter where you live, what you do, or what you believe, you are impacted by a 4H member everyday. You're just too ignorant to notice.

    June 23, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
  9. descarado

    Let's just send all weenie-boy gamers, PETA cult members, vegans and vegetarians to Afghanistan.

    June 23, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
  10. Mike

    The article on 4-H is hypocrisy, unfounded, and biased. I am a product of 4-H, started when I was 9-yrs old, and owe much of my success as a father, a successful businessman, and as a community leader to 4-H. I am now 52. Did 4-H desensitize me to killing – Hell No! If anything desensitized me to killing it might be films at the movie theater and/or video games, albeit, I know better....BECASUE of what I learned from 4-H. Kids that raise their own food through a 4-H program, FFA, or any other agricultural program are much more in tune with the effort to raise healthy food and the sacrifice made. And anyone that feels or has an opinion that 4-H, FFA or the other ag. programs desensitize kids to killing has no a clue of the programs, their scope, or their history. The comments herein re killing animals is bad, barbaric, etc.....are obviously biased. Beware all vegans....I like my vegetarians BBQ'd!

    June 23, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
  11. Jenny

    Everyone is entiltled to their here's mine! Anyone who thinks that 4-H is awful because of training children how to be responsible in raising animals is severely out of touch with reality...I am far more worried about children being raised in a society that devalues human life by supporting the murder of unborn babies than I am about children learning how to care for animals that will end up on somebody's dinner table

    June 23, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
    • Connie

      Very well said.

      June 23, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
    • thinkaboutit

      EXACTLY, Jenny!!!

      June 23, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
  12. valerie

    first off im at a loss of words you just have no clue what you talking about! yes i live on a farm. yes i am a active 4-H member aparently you, Heather King are not, in this organization because it does not stand for tearing people down an thats what your all about god have you ever saw a 4-Her in real life we are not about plastic smiles or killing at all in fact i almost cryed when i sold my first steer i swear if it takes spending a day with real 4-Hers to solve what ever pretend idea is in your head then just let me know and i would love to fix your messed up mind any day.
    .... this is a new low someone trying to give 4-H a bad name, whats wrong with you?!?!

    June 23, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
  13. Farmer Rick

    Wow! I've never taken the time to read through a blog such as this ...some of you need to get a life!

    I've been raising cattle for 20 years (city folk previously). My kids have been through 4-H, FFA, and NJAA.
    We focus on livestock because that is a large part of our operation. Our kids changed from pink hair, pierced ears, and skateboards to young men who have an appreciation for life and death; ethical treatment of animals; respect for your fellow men(women).
    Our 200+ animals are "pets" in that we know each one, provide them with safe food and shelter, and eliminate their suffering, But just as humans have a purpose (or should have) these animals have a purpose. We know the end result and are sadden when their time comes to meet their purpose or their maker.
    Amen to Mister Jones and Dennis.
    To stay on track of discussing 4-H, the program is extensively teaching a wide range of skills: animal husbandry, marketing, business management, responsibility, goal-setting, speaking, communications, personal presentation, just to name a few, in raising an animal for 6-8 months, exhibiting it in front of a judge, and marketing to the best of their ability. Additionally the lasting friendships that turn into networking opportunities as adults are priceless.
    I agree with the sensitivity issue. People who actively manage animals, no matter what the setting, dealing in life and death have more appreciation and value of life in all facets. The more distant you have from the food source the less sensitive you are to the process.

    One of my favorite projects at the State Fair is talking to people who are illiterate in agriculture and answering their "stupid" questions. Actually, just the fact that they ask the question means they are NOT stupid........
    as are some of you who have no involvement in the industry but "report" wild facts??...
    If you really want to know about the busniess or 4-H just ASK.
    Anyone of us folks who have been there would be happy to host an intelligent discussion. R.

    June 23, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
  14. Victoria Avvenire

    Why don't all of you who believe that 4-h & FFA members turn into "animal killers", check out and/or & you will QUICKLY learn that animal killing IS NOT what the organizations are about.

    June 23, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
  15. Shelby Lehor

    As a former 4-H member I'm disgusted at this. Being around agriculture and raising animals taught me responsibility! I understood at a young age what a true hard days work really meant. I cried everytime my animals went to slaughter no matter if I was 8 or 19! People who judge this program have no idea of all the hard work and effort that are put into raising these animals!!! If you have never been in 4-H or had a child in 4-H then you have no idea what you are talking about!
    At least I know where my food comes from which is less then I can say for most people in America! I appreciate farmers everyday because I know the hard work it takes to raise animals to keep ignorant people fed and clothed! I'm NOT and will never be desensitized to animals dying!!!! If you actually went to a fair on pick up day every single child is upset and most are usually crying!!!! As for 4-H it taught me life long skills to work hard in life and money! Children from 4-H understand that people have to eat so don't not judge!!!!!!!!

    June 23, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
  16. Shannon

    Are you kidding me? Being an Agriculture Educator I believe it is my civil duty and right to inform our children (the future of this country) how to produce for the betterment of mankind. Dogs and cats are pets, cattle, sheep, and swine are livestock. They serve a purpose just like the vegetables in the ground. Yes students and children get attached to the animals. I know from experience. Not only does the majority of the money the students win from selling their animals go into college funds for other children it also helps them attend college. Raising animals helps improve responsibility, leadership, and self-worth. The students who are involved in 4-H and FFA are more likely to graduate college, raise families, and become productive members of society. Not only will the have an education they will be feeding your family someday with their knowledge in Agriculture. Quit being ignorant! We as agriculturalist respect your opinion and we can only hope you do the same!

    June 23, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
  17. Nichole Georgia 4-H'er

    "Excuse me. Pardon me. CAN I GET A WORD IN?" It seems as though the author of this article clearly didn't get any 4-H'ers opinion or comments on this article. And as an active 4-H'er of 7 years, I would have been more than happy to give him a thought on why we ARE sensitive to killing animals. From the 4-H'ers perspective, we learn to raise the animals, care for them, and let them go if needed. This does not mean we learn how relationships are disposable. In fact, 4-H teaches us the very opposite! We learn to cherish and create long-lasting friendships and relationships.
    Just because people eat meat doesn't mean we are insensitive to the animals. A few of our Georgia 4-H'ers understand that this is an act of Free Speech, but please will YOU understand what we are asking? Give us a chance to tell you that we aren't what you say we are. We also think that our organization does more for us in a day than this article will do for ANYONE in 5 years time. Let us show you what we learn and what we know.

    June 23, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
  18. Farm boy

    This is the biggest load of bull i have ever heard I am a current 4her and have been for 8 years and i have sold meny animals through both 4h sales and public livestock auctions and i get attached to every animal i raise im there when there born and im there the day they leave but i undersatand that i raised that animal for a purpose antd the purpose was to be slaughtered i have cried after a meny 4h sales because i was attached to the animals but i understand the reason im not desinsitzed im educated and any person that thinks that the 4h is a bad program need sto spend a week at a county fair with a group of 4h kids i grantee they are some of the most polite and most well behaved kids u will ever meet and watch how the kids live for there animals and watch the heartbreak of some when there animal is one of the animals that get loaded up on the slaughter house truck and to all those that think that its wrong to use aniamls for meat guess what meatis wat gave ur body the protein thats need for brain development and remember 90% of all everyday products from makeup to basketballs came from animals

    June 23, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
  19. Morgan

    Excuse me I am I very proud 4-H er and the auction is exciting only to know that you HARD work PAID OFF! VERY VERY VERY few buy these animals others go to the farm were there raised and treated with repsept. Shame on you for reporting such trash about 4-H. This is a complete lie! I am ashamed of you people!

    June 23, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
  20. Amanda

    I am a former 4-H member as well as FFA member. If it weren't for 4-H and FFA there would be a lot of life skills that I would not have learned. I raised and then showed cattle, sheep, and pigs through 4-H and FFA. I have come to respect animals and what they have to offer me, whether it's meat, leather products, cosmetics, or even shampoo, and so many more products that I use on a daily basis that all contain animal by-products. I'm not going to lie to you, I cried the first time going through the sale ring as a nine year old, tears knowing that I wasn't going to see my animals ever again, but I also learned that I was doing my part to support the world food supply. I grew up on a large grain and livestock farm, and will continue to farm and support my industry. In my opinion 4-H and FFA programs are in place to teach children how to properly raise and handle livestock, as well as all the other things that come with these programs. We are all entitled t our opinions and I respect others opinions, I am willing to listen to their opinions and hope that others will take my opinions into consideration too.

    June 23, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
  21. D G

    Pick on innocent young people. Is that the new "American Way"? They are merely, contextually learning about real-world supply & demand forces of the world we live in.

    Sure it would be great if people did not need to eat to live, but biologically-speaking, it does not work that way. Do people how advocate against consuming animals, also advocate against driving? We may swerve to miss a deer, bunny, cat, etc., but most (all) of us have killed an un-countable number of insects. Even vegetarians indirectly kill insects when plant products are delivered to stores/homes.

    Let's all grow up and stop attacking others, until we can truly live what we preach.

    June 23, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
  22. Kyle

    I am a 16 year old kid that has showed animals in 4-H and FFA since i was 6. 4-H and FFA have taught me life skills that no english class or math class will ever teach me. It prepares kids for the real world so that when they kicked out from mommy and daddy's roof, they can survive. We need more of those kids that have learned those healthy and humane ways to raise livestock so we can stop the factory torture to animals. People say all this crap on farmers and dont realize where their food comes from. Less than 2% of America is farmers and it is slowly going down. My family is one of those 2%. Food is not made in the grocery store and no magical geni puts the food in the stores. Before you go bagging on 4-H and saying that it is bad for kids, maybe you should get your facts straight.

    June 23, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
    • Kyle

      Also, God put those animals on the Earth for a reason and that was for consumption.

      June 23, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
  23. Katelyn, Past 4-Her, Livestock Producer

    First, I do not want any vegetarian or vegan or anyone on here who is anti-meat think that it is somehow right or wrong, it is simply your choice to eat meat or not, one of the best parts about living in this country is our ability to have a choice. However, to all of you who think it is morally wrong to eat meat, as well as share your opinion and try to make others feel bad for eating meat that is the problem.
    Second, 4-H is an amazing organization which not only taught me a lot about life and death, but also taught me leadership skills, helped me to find my passion in life, and introduced me to some of my best friends and best people I have ever known. So it is not just about raising and killing animals. Also so what if children are exposed to the circle of life, I grew up on a farm birthing, growing, and killing my own animals and yes it was hard to do when I was young, but I also appreciate my food and do my best not to waste it or take it for granted. So I am not sure what 4-H has to do with anything whether you are for or against eating meat.
    Third, to the hundreds of people on here who simply do not understand the animal industry, maybe you should not make speculations about an industry you do not know. I live and work in the animal industry and absolutely hate the term factory farming. Are you aware that 95% of farms are family owned, across the entire industry corn to cattle. Are you aware that most of cattle (even factory farm cattle) comes from operations with 50 head or less and spend 7-12 months on pasture? They only are sent to feed lots for 6 months prior to slaughter to gain weight, which is not always possible on pasture? Are you aware that pigs raised in confinement are more healthy and comfortable than their outdoor counterparts who have to experience mother nature even at her finest? Getting into the science here, are you aware that there are 1.9 nanograms of estrogen in a steak (even from a steer which has been implanted with "hormones") and there are hundreds to thousands of nanograms of estrogen in the salad you eat before the steak? Finally, when my children get sick, yes I will take them to the doctor to make sure they get the anti-biotics they need to be healthy again, this is how the animal industry works, when an animal gets sick we must treat them to make them well again. Overall, the animal industry is an amazing industry and we do our best to treat our animals with respect not only early in life but also in the slaughter house before their death. Did you know that animals which are stressed before slaughter do not go into the food chain as high priced items (steaks/pork chops) because the meat becomes discolored and hard to sell? Now why would we stress our animals and make it impossible to get the highest amount of money for them. It makes no sense. So please to all the critics out there, next time look to the science of the industry and what actually happens before you choose to have an opinion on something you don't know.

    June 23, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
  24. mercenary76

    Americans and indeed much of the civilized worlds citizens are raised today with no real idea of where their food comes from and what to do if it stops magically appearing in the supermarket . Besides that obvous point , there are entirely too many delusional people trying to convince other people that the fantasy that they live in their mind is real . If the delivery trucks stopped tomorrow it would not take long before all of the " bunny huggers " would be looking for some delicious animal to invite for dinner .

    June 23, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
  25. Celeste Spencer

    I am a Proud 4-Her !! CNN I got news for you ! I just left the barn a few minutes ago and what was I doin in the barn ? Takin care of my calf and speical lamb !! I think you should get your facts right before you put down 4-H !! Really I dont even know what to say cause all of this is wrong ! We LOVE our LIVESTOCK !! It is hard on sale night but I keep thinking that I can just do it again the next year ! I DON'T KNOW WHO YOU THINK YOU ARE but 4-H is my life and I dont know what I would do with out it !! Everyone 4-H is not what CNN makes it out to be ! It is the best thing that will ever happen to you ! We love our livestock and we care for them ! I love my calf and my speical lamb !

    June 23, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
  26. CJ

    4H Programs have done a lot of good........they teach klids responsibility. As for the livestock in 4H programs, they play a very important part in teaching us all to handle LIFE and DEATH!!! nuff'said!

    June 23, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
  27. to all the vegans

    My food poops on your food. Enjoy your salads. I eat meat, I always have, I always will. I don't try to pick fights or argue with vegetarians about what they eat so you damn people need to stop trying to push your way of life on the rest of the world. I live in farm country and I got news for you. The same farmers that slaughter the pigs, chickens, and cows also grow your friggin vegetables. (in the manure produced by those animals).

    June 23, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  28. Jessica

    I'm an 11 year 4-H member from Kansas and I show sheep and cows. Do you really think we are desensitzed? Why don't you come to our 4-H fair the last night of the fair at the auction? We know where our animal is going and there are definitely tears shed by a lot of the girls and many of the boys. I have shown since I was 8 and it doesn't get any easier, but I know that I am getting better quality meat and that they are hormone free and better for you, unlike meat you buy in the stores are. Buying show cattle also helps you with money management and how to run a "business" without losing money. I will never regret the time I spent as a leader in 4-H and I'm very sad that this is my last year to be in 4-H. Here are a few facts about 4-Hers verses Non-4-Hers...
    If you are in 4-H you are...
    More than twice as likely to contribute to their communities

    41% less likely to engage in risky or problem behaviors

    Twice as less likely to engage in drug use

    Twice as unlikely to use cigarettes or drink alcohol

    Less likely to be victims of depression

    More likely to spend more time exercising or being physically active

    More likely to have better grades and see themselves going to college

    So really, I don't see 4-H as a bad thing at all and if you want to continue to call us desensitized go ahead, but know that 4-Hers go further in community organizations as adults and they are more likely to have a leadership career.
    I know that 4-H has been the best opportunity for me and because of 4-H, I was the Valedictorian of my class and a leader in all organizations at my school, so while all you guys argure about us being desensitized remember our motto "To make the best, better" and that it isn't all about animals and 4-H is an opportunity for all. I'll always be a 4-Her at heart and none of you will ever change me.

    June 23, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
    • Nichole Georgia 4-H'er

      This pretty much sums up what I want to say. I honestly can say I'd be proud to have Jessica as a part of our country 4-H, or be a part of hers. She understand the importance of what 4-H does for us.

      June 23, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
  29. Ms piggy

    Eat soy not meat! Stop the innocent animals from dying! Stop it! It starts with you!
    Save the animals! Save save save them!

    June 23, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
    • Brianna

      You're joking, right? I can't tell, but I sure hope you're joking.

      June 23, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
      • I luv 'que

        lol...gotta love "Ms Piggy". I think she should've added a "hiii yaaah" in there somewhere for more effect.

        June 23, 2011 at 11:51 pm |
  30. freebiefarmgal

    These comments about desensitizing kids to killing animals just appalls me. I grew up on a family farm and was a 4-H member and proud of it, i exhibited swine and sheep for over 12 years at the county fair and have participated in state and national shows. Majority of the 4-H members are upset when they ship their animals off to market, but they know it is part of life, we were made to eat meat. I cant count the numerous times i have cried after sending an animal off to market, even if they are just ones from the farm that i was close to. I am 23 and i still cry when one of my pets sows are shipped. These animals that are exhibited by 4-H members are taken better care of than their owners and even live a life of luxury. I know in my house if we had not feed the animals we didn't eat till we had. These 4-H members spend all summer taking care of their animals. As a recent college graduate, whose dream job is working with 4-H it is upsetting when people and media have a negative image towards it, because it hurts the organization.
    Plus when animals are butchered almost every part is used for something. I can almost guarantee that the ones who are claiming to be vegan or vegatarain, use or eat something with a product from an animal. Jell-o, the gelatin in the Jell-o mix is made from pigs, along with crayons, leather, some medications, and much more.
    4-H is not just about livestock but it is also about responsibility, leadership, and networking. 4-H is a great opportunity for everyone,even if they are not interested in livestock.

    June 23, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
  31. Chris from Texas

    The last I checked, the Bible says that God gave us dominion over all of the animals. This would include slaughtering them and eating them. There are many jobs out there that really aren't the "perfect" job and that can be seen as making the average person a bit queasy.... Mortician and embalmer are a couple that comes to mind. So, by the "desensitizing logic", those that have the will power to actually work on humans, draining their blood and other tasks, would be desensitized to kill humans? I think not. The same logic can be said for a Veterinarian that has to euthanize a sick animal... again, I think not. Years ago, we ALL had to hunt and gather to feed ourselves. My kids hunt and fish. This does not make them haters of animals. They have been taught that killing for the sake of killing is wrong and that anything that is killed is killed for meat, not sport. Survival-ism is becoming a lost art in this Country... and the haters are those that don't understand or cannot stand to do themselves. 4-H and FFA programs are vital to keep up responsible farming. BTW, this would include the understanding that farm animals or market animals are bread for the purpose of slaughter. Do some research, it's not just meat that comes from the animals that are slaughtered, there are MANY inedible products made from parts of the animals as well.

    June 23, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
  32. Susan

    Just like banning horse slaughter has caused unbelievable suffering to unwanted horses, these same people think that something as educational as 4H is bad for kids? And now 4H is mostly crafts? We truly are a coddled, soft society whose ignorance causes terrible suffering for the things we are trying to help. Let's replace those last few family farms with the factories and feedlots. As long as you can sleep at night, the lie is ok. Lol god, you're all ridiculous. Heaven help the animals you are trying to help.

    June 23, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • Brianna

      Amen. How many horses are turned out in the woods to fend for themselves because their owners don't want them/don't have the means to take care of them anymore. Or, how many of them starve to death each year on the farm because the owners can't supply grain and hay for them? Had they allowed horse slaughtering still, none of this would happen.

      But, since crazy people think of horses as pets and not livestock, that ended that.

      June 23, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
  33. Kelly

    4-H kids are responsible, confident and give back to their communities!

    June 23, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
  34. April

    I hope that every single one of you who oppose and/or say it desensitizes children are vegetarians. If you are then I believe everyone is entitled to their own opinion and I do respect that as long as you respect mine, however, if you are not a vegetarian you are a HYPOCRATE and tryingto argue a logical point with you is pointless.

    June 23, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
  35. Mendy Sellman

    I grew up showing cattle and my children show cattle. We also raise beef prok and chickens on our farm for our customers. If anything this gives children a better respect for life, it shows them that it is important to care for the animals, because they take care of us. Desensitizing is leaving a child wander the city with no guidance, or sit in front of an electric box with a remote in their THAT is desensitization! How many 4-H or farm children grow up to be killers or gang members?!

    June 23, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
  36. brandon

    I am sorry but I was a 4-H'er I raised many animals for years and it made me aware of where my meat/produce came from. The people that have a steak and then say that we are desensitive to the slaughter of animals need to get freaking clue. Where do you think it comes from. GET OFF THE BACK OF THE AG COMMUNITY, or better yet. why don't you just not eat anything grown, or touched by a farmer, and see how long you last.

    June 23, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
  37. Bryson Hunt

    Wow, why don't they talk to all the FFA members about this, they are the ones killing animals, whoever wrote this article is clearly an idiot and just wanted to have something to write about. What losers.

    June 23, 2011 at 4:14 pm |

    ::As I pass the burgers around to my fellow meat eaters and chew on the deliciously juicy BEEF: Okay I don't care if you are a vegetarian, vegan or whatever thats perfectly fine with me but DON'T try to force your views on me- I love meat. I was born and raised in cattle country (TEXAS) I now live in Farming country (ILLINOIS) and my whole family HUNTS and eats what we kill- including my daughter. We have all hunted, field dressed, processed,cooked and eaten our own kills- we have all had animals we raised that later became food, there isn't a thing wrong with that. I'm more upset about those that hunt and kill and then WASTE the meat.
    4-H gives kids the opportunity to be an integral part of the circle of life in a proper and meaningful way. It teaches them proper care of animals and to VALUE what they have done with their own hands. DO some of them get upset when their animal is taken away- yes which is a clear indication they are NOT desensitized! Eventually, these kids gain a better understanding of what these animals are for- to provide the hungry with something to eat; they do not become desensitized they just acknowledge the purpose of the food chain.
    Anyone who feels they are better because they don't eat meat is simply egotistical and unrealistic. Believe what you like but keep your ignorance to yourself- I don't hate on you because you eat only vegetables (I enjoy the occasional salad now and then) so don't hate on me because I'm a steak and potatoes kind of girl!!

    June 23, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
    • pa hunter

      Could not agree more!!!!

      I made the same point before. Hunting and producing your own food teaches people to respect that food and prevents it from being wasted. Once you process your own Animal you will not let any of it go to waste.

      June 23, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
  39. Idaho Farm-Wife

    I am a farmwife & vegetarian (& been a non-meat eater since a baby- despite my parent’s efforts to have me eat meat). I don’t eat meat, my family does & I prepare all their meals. I SUPPORT the animal agriculture sector as well as our own farm’s wheat/garb crops. People need to know where their food comes from & yes it does include animals dying to put food on your table. 4H as well as FFA are great organizations & kids that participate are healthy & well-rounded. I’ve compiled many farm blogs at, so check it out to read about the men & women who put food on America’s table. I also have a farm blog at, so read about what farmers do & why.

    June 23, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
  40. Maddee

    I just heard of this article being posted to the CNN website in one of my graduate agriculture communication classes.

    A small town, rural farming community is the picture of perfect place to grow up, that’s why my parents moved my sister and I to a place so far away from our original "home" or so I thought at the age of ten. I entered this community with no friends, little self-esteem and the personality that would be injured at the wrong look from anyone. In my prior life to the move we had raised slaughter steers, I watched my first horse die after a great day of riding and we had to put down several dogs. Death of a "pet" and or animal was nothing new to me, but still shocking every time. My parents were both avid outdoorsmen, so bringing home birds and other wildlife from a weekend hunting trip was nothing new to see either. This still didn't change how shocked I was when I sold my first 4-H lamb, Jen-Jen.

    Let’s start this with the fact that, Jen-Jen was one of the idiotic creatures on earth, I told my mother this everyday, several times a day. I spent between two and three hours a day with my sheep and spited the market lamb named Jen-Jen. This never changed even at the show where she took me down and drug me throughout the barns. Still when I went to sell her, knowing perfectly well of her fate, I was devastated, I was a crying mess. At the age of ten, I realized shortly after I had loaded my lamb on to a trailer, that I had worked really hard for months with that sheep and I still didn’t have champion lamb or I was not the champion Junior showman, but I had earned a high placing in my market class and showmanship. I had been successful, done exactly as I had set out to do. For that I was proud of what I done and I was glad that mean, stupid sheep was to never be seen again. I continued to raise market animals, steer and hogs, throughout my career as a 4-H and FFA member. I worked hard every year raising those animals, I was dedicated to them and it made me the person I am today.

    I love a hard days work, I love the beef industry, I still hate sheep and I am proud of that lesson I learned early on. That lesson was, life is tough, I had contributed a quality animal to the food market and reaped the benefits of having more work ethic, dedication and determination than any other kid in my high school class. I was the only kid in that class that was involved with an agriculture-leadership based program. I am now the only person who is working to obtain higher education.

    I can not imagine my life without the time I spent in 4-H and FFA, I grew up raising animals, having the snot kicked out of me, learning that seeing a new born calf suck from its mothers teat is one of the most beautiful things. I also understand that I enjoy consuming the highest-quality, safest, most nutrient dense foods that one can consume comes at a price of that animals life. This is how HUMANS AND OTHER ANIMALS have survived for all of time. Raising quality livestock from a perspective that I learned by the time I was twelve and madly in love with cattle and horses took sacrifice, but so is everything else in life.

    I challenge any of you who did not learn the value of 4-H whether it was through an arts program, cooking, archery or livestock to take a look at your life; what challenged you, what shaped you into the person you are today? I am proud of agriculture and the youth programs such as 4-H and FFA, tomorrow’s leaders who have experienced loss of something so loved or challenged in some way shape or form will help to make this world better.

    June 23, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
  41. vegdoc

    Also, I think the 4-H program is one of the most wholesome educational programs in existence. And I have never been in 4-H, nor have my kids been in it, yet. I know many people that have been in 4-H and I have watched 4-H kids come through the program. My kids will be in 4-H.

    June 23, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
  42. Stacey - past 4-H Leader

    Just a note to the Katie that you refer to in your article. Thesre is a difference in raising an animal for a pet and raising one to sale. We have dog, horse, rabbit groups etc that show with their pets. We have Pulblic Speaking, Share the Fun, Clothing, Cooking, etc for those that don't want or can not have pets. Then we have cattle, goats, sheep and swine that 4-H members show in Market and Breeding classes. A market class consists of male animals that are not of breeding quality. I guarantee if you ever purchased one of these animals from a 4-H or FFA mmember you would never purchase meat at the store again. For a 4-H member to raise a market animal to the best of there abilitiy and then sale that animal and some 4-Her's have been through the process of the packing houses and to know that you are giving someone quality meat is a great feeling.

    June 23, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
  43. pa hunter

    If the human population was to eat only vegetables we would have to clear almost every inch of ground on this planet for crops . so the question is what would happen to all the animals? They would have to eat our food to survive Right? Well after someone watches a loved one starve because wild life has taken some of our crops do you think those animals will still be around the next year to take our crops or do you think people will hunt them down. Not to mention that the animal populations would explode due to people not hunting them. sooner or later it will be us or them. the ecosystem is a difficult thing to maintain. It is made up of predators s and pray. do i realy need to explain what happens if you eliminate one or the other?

    June 23, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
  44. Lamar

    It is simply learning about life. Life has some harsh realities and death is one of them. Animals kill to eat and survive. We grow produce and animals and we kill to survive. Life is not all about Bambi and Thumper. Life has it's ups and downs and it's good and bad parts. Sometimes we have to make decisions or do things that we might not like, but that is life. Apparantly the "adults" that made this "article"/trash never grew up and look through rose colored glasses at life.

    June 23, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
  45. Kodey

    This is absolutely ridiculous! I am currently in my 10th year of 4H in Laporte county Indiana and have learned and accomplished so much. Without 4H I wouldn't have some of my best friends, half my lifes memories, I'd have nothing! As for desensitizing, I raised sheep for 5 years, and come auction day I had to get rid of them because my family didn't have the facilities or the money to keep them over the winter. There was no choice, and I can honestly say that it hurt. Every year I wanted nothing more than to put them on a trailer home, but instead I couldn't go near the barn after fair or I would start crying. even at 15, not just as a little kid. Also through my experiences and work in 4H I decided what career I wanted to go into! All I have to say is, its sad someone has to be talking badly about one of the GREATEST programs in the country. They obviously never spent time around a 4Her or a county fair and maybe should before voicing an opinion like this!

    June 23, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
  46. Mary

    Thank you, Sharon, for that comment. You hit it spot on – because of my 4-H experience, I am comfortable speaking in front of large crowds. I know how to bake and plant and care for a garden. I learned to better manage my finances – because of 4-H I've been balancing a checkbook since I was 10 years old. And yes – I learned what it takes to raise healthy animals, which are the foundation for a healthy food supply here in the United States and around the world as well. I learned about feed rations and about animal handling. There were summer days that I would have rather gone to the swimming pool with my friends, but my siblings and I were responsible for ensuring our animals were cared for first. They had to be fed and watered but also walked, cleaned and groomed.

    I am proud of every lesson I learned from my 4-H (and FFA) experience and someday hope to pass those lessons on to my own kids. Rather than pointing fingers and at industry that some who've commented on this article clearly don't understand, take a day and go visit an honest to goodness, real life working farm. Learn about what we do to feed you and your family. Then I'd love to have an educated conversation with you about animal agriculture.

    June 23, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
  47. Tom Creeley

    I was a 4-H club member in our local dairy club and also in our conservation club. The 4-H builds character and leadership. It teaches and promotes thinking for oneself. It teaches responsibility and exposes rural and farm kids to the larger world around them. It encourages college enrollment. It is about the local and county community. The fairs are the highlight – times when one can share, demonstrate, and meet new friends.
    Farming is the practice that many dislike, that harvests animals for food. Farm kids grow up with this. It is not done with cruelty. It is simply a fact of life. I grew up on a dairy farm and chose as an adult not to get involved with the butchering of animals. I have horses and chickens and support stray cats. I have a garden. Living on a farm, being in the 4-H does not harden you, but it does not hide life's choices. There is no sugarcoating. I don't like the meat end of the business, but then I don't like to see the lobster tank in the grocery store either. Nothing likes to die. Our farm animals hate dying. Our soldiers during wartime don't like to die. Our enemies throughout the world hate to die. We need to stop pretending. You can't prioritize death. Nothing deserves it, but it happens. Lets respect the 4-H clubs and what they do. Let's drop our hypocrisy and be fair.

    June 23, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
  48. Brianna

    Thank you for posting some of my comments in this article. I wish there were a few more of them shown, because I feel that I made more valid and applicable points in other comments I made. It takes one person to blow a perfectly good thing (4-H) way out of proportion.

    Now, thanks to eatocracy, I have more passion to become involved with 4-H to help educate the youth and the world.

    June 23, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
  49. tomster

    This argument is so ridiculously flawed. I know plenty of 4H and Future Farmers of America (FFA) kids that raised goats or cattle that ultimately ended up in the slaughter house, but they certainly loved them as pets during the time they cared for them. They are just mature enough to understand that ANIMALS ARE NOT HUMAN, ya stupid jackasses!

    June 23, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
  50. Erica

    I would encourage you to compare children who have grown up in 4-H and FFA programs vs. kids that have not. 4-H teaches children many valuable life lessons and every employer that I've ever spoken to values a former 4-H/FFA employee over the majority of non-4-H/FFA employees. The lessons you learn through these valuable programs can't be bought or found anywhere else. Knowing where your food comes from is an important lesson and knowing how to care for a live animal (proper nutrition, care, etc.) is even more valuable. We all require protein, and many of us enjoy animal protein. I encourage you to be appreciative of the lessons learned through 4-H rather than bashing on the program that was valuable to so many of us, and helps contribute to putting food on our tables everyday. Sign your children up today, you may be suprised at how many valuable lessons the program serves rather than just "raising an animal for slaughter". There's a bigger picture here.

    June 23, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
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