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. whilepeople

    while people are starving in africa we got so much food that we have the audacity to say we cant eat animals. Ya know their are ton of starving north korean kids living off of grass who im sure would love to have a hamburger for dinner.

    as for myself... im going to keep eating meat. have like 30 kids cause im conservative. and teach them all to be meat lovers.

    June 24, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
  2. Tonee

    4H is the political brainwashing organization that Neocons use to indoctrinate their kids. NOTHING good comes from this organization except future disciples to bow to the military-industrial complex.

    June 24, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
    • Mendy Sellman

      This is you ever actually go outside and look around the world and visit new palces?! wow.....

      June 24, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • Ide

      You sound like your mother raised you in a basement and only fed you celery your entire life. You do understand that things have to die in order for other things to survive, right? It's sort of a fact of life, and has nothing to do with anything you just spouted from that thing you a call a mouth.

      June 24, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • I am a 4-H'er

      Have you ever been a 4-H'er? I would assume you haven't been because of the ridiculous comment you posted. 4-H is a wonderful organization that teaches kids leadership, speaking skills, forms everlasting friendships, and many other innumerable qualities. As a 4-H Senior board officer, I've seen just how these skills can affect a person's life. I was a shy, soft-spoken, contained little girl. Through 4-H, i'm outgoing and bubbly. I talk to everyone and anyone about why they themselves should join 4-H. So before you go criticizing an organization you must know nothing about, come talk to an actual 4-H'er. It may make a world of difference.

      June 26, 2011 at 11:37 pm |
  3. Mary Kaye

    Do us all a favor and shut up. 4H is the best thing that a child can participate in. Good wholesome values. Farmers are not desensitized they live life so that the remainder of your goobers can enjoy everything else.

    June 24, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
  4. goodgriefpeople

    I don't believe that raising animals for auction at the 4-H/FFA livestock sale with the end result being the slaughter of the animal desesnsitizes our nation's youth. Perhaps the larger group of food (be it meat or vegateable) purchasers have become so far removed and insulated from the realities of food production that they lack a thorough understanding of the process. Ignorance and misinformation seem to create zealots bent on attempting to bully those who choose to act, think, or do differently into their way of thinking.

    June 24, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
  5. MissCalAgLady

    My story about FFA not desensitizing me!

    June 24, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
  6. medshool249

    This article represents the larger problem with people that can use a platform like CNN to defame a great organization like 4-H. To simply make an allegation that is "un-true" and unwarranted should be against the law. This crosses the line of free speech. Kids that participate in this organization (including my daughter) understand that the well being of animals is fundamental with being a good human. Farmers/Ranchers all understand how important it is to care for their livestock. Kids that grow up on a farm learn about life and death at a much younger age. This does not de-sensitize them anymore than watching video games or main street tv. Kids in 4-H learn great values in life and should not be de-humanized by some group with a personal agenda like PETA!

    June 24, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
    • goodgriefpeople

      Well said! Children who grow up in some form of production agriculture have a much better grasp on the reality of life. From the very beginning to the very end. And as a bonus the "Big Talk" about sexuality isn't so big, take your kids to semen and trich. test bulls or preg check cows sometime.

      June 24, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
  7. Chris

    I have worked at a 4H camp for the past two years. In those two years I have never seen anything that would make me think that what 4H does or stands for is wrong! I was never in 4H as a child because I grew up in the city, I was however in boyscouts. One day when I have kids of my own you bet your bottom dollar they will somehow be involved in the county 4H program.

    June 24, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
  8. campr1

    4-H teaches valuable life skills. I'm sorry but animals are not all designed to simply populate the earth. Cattle, pigs, sheep – those are food and clothing animals. They are raised to provide life sustenance and if you get caught up in emotions then you can't do the job of raising these vital sources of food, clothing and other life sustaining products. I was raised in the country and in 4-H. I have an immense love and respect for all living things, but I also understand that the circle of life for things requires that some animals are sacrificed for our own human needs.

    You who think raising animals for food is disgusting: Stop eating all animal products – meat, eggs, milk, butter, ice cream. Don't buy dog or cat food either because those contain animal meats and/or by-products. Don't buy leather shoes, belts, purses or wallets – for gosh sake don't have leather seats in your cars! You're the ones living a dream. Life is full of hard lessons. I'm sick to death of all you weenies and whiners who think life is all about feeling warm and fuzzy. Some of us have to work for a living and some of us have a real life in which we're the ones doing those unpleasant things that let you lazy whiners lead your luxury lives in your dream worlds complaining. Eat a bon-bon and watch re-runs of Oprah.

    June 24, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
  9. Ituri

    We did rabbit breeding for 4-H when I was young, and I can say for an absolute fact, after being around it and the other aspects of 4-H activities, it absolutely does NOT desensitize kids to "killing." Some animals like cattle do get taken to slaughter, but this would be true if they were 4-H related or not. Cattle become steak, this is what they are for in the US. Teaching kids how to care for the animals and be involved in the process teaches them an appreciation for the life of the animal, and even though we lost a lot of rabbits over our time breeding, it only made me appreciate their LIVES more.

    These anti 4-H people are probably PETA nuts to begin with. They're anti-pets, anti-working animals, anti-meat, anti-fur, anti-everything really, and it just isn't realistic or feasible.

    June 24, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • Ide

      That, and rabbits are incredibly tastey and extremely good for you, and for people with heart problems because of the low fat and fatty acids. But I will never get over the killing part of it, it's all worth it because you know that you are capable of producing your own food, ect.. but that doesn't make killing them any easier.

      June 24, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
  10. Sunrise

    We are to watch over the meat providing animals with care. They were put on this earth for our nourishment. I'm sure the writer of this blog lives the city life and has never set foot on a farm. If he had, this would not have been an issue. Write about something you have experience with. If you've never interviewed a farm family or visited a working farm and talked to the people, then this article is irrelevant. Write about what you know. Not about what you don't know. It's all about control. You don't want to eat meat fine but don't make me follow your misguided and uninformed philosophy.

    June 24, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
  11. Future Ag/FFA Teacher

    IM sorry but what exactly is your idea of how they are tourtured? These animals are fed the highest quality feed, cared and attended for every day, givin clean fresh water, and exercised. these animals are...dare i say...pampered.
    you people make me very sad that you are willing to hang an organization that does so much for our youth, and quite frankly i am affraid that because you are louder and more annoying, other people with no brain cells who can not decide for themselves will belive what you and other uneducated and ignorant people tell them.

    My goal as a future ag teacher is to reach each and every student possible to educate them on the importance of agriculture. not being mean to little piggys and laughing as they die. but to care for your livestock, work hard and value what you get out of it, and to be greatful and respectful for the food we have. And also!!! belive it or not!!! how to grow crops, and feed you, the very type of person who is trying to stomp us out. Get rid of us honey, go ahead, but then i beg you to tell me where you will get YOUR food??? or the clothes you wear?? or didnt you know a farmer (who was more than likely in 4H) had to grow the cotton to make it.......

    It is unfortunate that you have so much money in your pocket that you have never had to break a sweat in the hot sun to make sure your animals are fed and their pens are clean BEFOR you are able to sit and the table and have supper
    Do you think that countries less fortunate than ours would prefer to eat a carrot or steak that is full of nutrients (not to mention ummm...flavor) to help them and their dying families grow???

    You and people like you are a discrase to the people who founded our country, your very own great great grand parents had to farm and ranch to survive, they weren't a bunch of cry baby softies who drove their car to the store everyday to get their grocieries....but you probably think that they just appear there by magic.

    Your blind ignorance of agriculture in its entirety makes me SICK and i pray for you and those you influence.

    June 24, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • Mom of future Ag Teacher

      We joined 4H @ the age of 9 to have/give a positive influence in our lives & in the lives of those we come in contact with. 4H & FFA grow amazing youth into amazing adults. Proud to be the Mom of this future Ag Teacher! You go girl!!

      June 26, 2011 at 10:43 pm |
  12. Current Pediatrician - Former Small town Iowa 4-H'er

    People have no clue where their food comes from these days. I myself was a 4H'er (one letter short of the 5H'ers described above) and I cannot tell you how many valuable lessons I learned during my ELEVEN years in this club. I did raise pigs and I did sell them off to market. At first you are right, it was very very difficult to sell my hogs, but over time, I learned that this is part of life. This is how we eat. This is why former farm kids understand and appreciate a good meal and many of the kids I work with today think food comes from McDonalds or a grocery store.
    4-H offered me the opportunity to create a homemade pie, create bread from scratch, completely strip and refinish an antique rocking chair and teach my dog of 8 years obedience. I learned discipline from getting up in the morning to go feed and care for the hogs that I showed. It was this same discipline which has helped this small town Iowa farm girl complete medical school and become an MD. So if you want to go ahead and insult this wonderful club which teaches kids life skills and values which will help them succeed in life... go ahead, but know that you are truly naive and wrong in doing so.

    June 24, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
  13. Leslie German

    I grew up showing dairy cattle and we also had many beef cows as well. Yes, most dairy cattle do not go to slaughter until they are old but we do still send our steers. Every single one of the animals that are born on our farm have a name andthey are just like big pets. Everytime we put them on a trailor it is hard to see them go but we are educated on the cirlce of life. Today, I am a 4-H educator and we educate students on the circle of life and where their food comes from. 4-H and FFA are teaching kids how to do valuable careers because if we don't continue to teach this art someday we may not be able to eat.

    June 24, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
  14. Extension Chick

    As a former 4H'er & FFA member, and now as a 4H leader and County Ag Extension Agent, I can honestly say that you don't become desensitized. You become appreciative of the hard work it takes to raise that animal, treating it much better than simply humanely, and then are rewarded by a check and the companion animal on your plate. There is no substitute for growing and harvesting your own meat. And yes, I have harvested and butchered my own 4H animals. It's a tremendous learning experience but one every person should have!

    June 24, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
  15. RickOfMS

    It's an interesting perspective. However, what a lot of vegetarians and others who don't believe in killing animals for meat do not understand is that all of the plants and plant products that we all eat are the result of killing the plants. In fact, many are eaten while they are still alive (i.e. raw vegetables, salads, etc.)! Is this more humane? In the cycle of life, living cells must be consumed. There are no alternatives. It's up to each individual to decide what he or she chooses to eat. 4-H is a first class organization that is doing a lot of good things for our young people. Anyone who looks into it further will certainly come to the same conclusion.

    June 24, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
  16. Carrie Muehling Vogel

    I grew up on a small dairy farm near a rural community of just 800 people. 4-H is a staple in communities like this, and for good reason. Our high school didn’t have enough kids to field a football team or a marching band, but our local 4-H group had more than 70 members. Yes, I had a livestock project. And yes, I loved those animals… sometimes even like a pet. But I always knew they were not pets. They were raised for a purpose other than companionship. Growing up on a farm, I had seen a calf born, and I knew that animals would eventually die. I don’t believe this desensitized me. I believe it helped me to learn a valuable life lesson that each of us has to come to terms with eventually. We treated our animals humanely, and cared for them the best way we knew how. But they were our livelihood – not our pets. Our freezer full of steaks came from the locker plant, not the grocery store. We understood the cycle, and it did not make us sad. It’s just the way life works.

    4-H was my first opportunity to be involved in a community organization. It was the first time I was a member of something. It represented my first exposure to networking, to teamwork, to volunteering and to experiencing other cultures. It was my first opportunity to work on a project and follow through to the finish. That meant planning, implementing my plan, deciding how to exhibit my project for the 4-H fair, preparing for an interview about my work with a judge, and keeping records on the entire experience. It was my first chance at public speaking, which would be an integral part of my future. Sometimes it meant winning an award, and sometimes it didn’t. Much like sports for kids who are passionate athletes, it was the chance at success and often the time to learn to lose gracefully. All of these things helped to prepare me for life in the real world, where teachers and professors have expectations, employers want productive, efficient and ethical workers, and organizational leaders need people who can work well together and execute a plan. 4-H was the beginning of all of those skills for me.

    I understand that there are people who don’t believe the same way I do about the purpose of animals like cows, pigs and chickens. I will respectfully disagree with the opinion that animals should not be harvested for meat. But I won’t stand idly by while people use that argument to give a black eye to an organization that holds so much value for young people across the world. It was an important part of my youth, it is the reason I continue to support 4-H today, and it is the reason I plan to find a 4-H club for my children when the time comes. No matter what the interest, there is a place to grow that skill and challenge that child to his or her fullest potential in 4-H.

    June 24, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
  17. Ashamed to be human

    How anyone can choose to take a living thing, extinguish the life and consume it, is beyond me. The way I've seen heads of lettuce ripped from the soil, or corn torn out of its husk... the whole sale slaughter of entire wheat fields by giant combines, so many living things, one moment enjoying the sun, the next cut down without so much as a shutter from the "human" aiding the annihilation.

    June 24, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • alison

      Life is beautiful because it exists. However in order to exist we have to gain the nutrition to survive. Plants take nutrients from the Earth, spiders eat the small bugs that eat our vegetables, larger animals eat those that are smaller, and it continues on. Without the cycle of eating organisms there would be no life for you to appreciate.

      June 24, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
  18. Allison

    4-H is really making the best better! Over 6 million yourth and adults are comprise this dynamic organization that is proven to be an integral part of the personal development of the future leasders of America. Anyone not convinced on the sincerity and continuity of this program should take time to visit with a 4-H representative in their area.

    I joinged 4-H when I was nine years old, and continued my membership until my 21st birthday. Each year I took livestock projects to learn more about the cattle and sheep that my family raises. Not only did I become a more educated producer of such commodities, but I also became more aware of the importance of consumer interests. Rest assured, there won't be a fifth leaf added to the emblem anytime soon. There is no organzation that displays more compassionate for others and acceptance of varying viewpoint than 4-H.

    It is not just kids with cows and plows that are participating iand learning about modern agriculture. There are youth in rural and urban areas involved in opportunities to become more educated about the food being produced and consumed.

    Maybe not everyone had the 4-H exposure that I was fortunate to have, but I feel strongly that "haters" is pretty harsh. If it comes down to global responsibility, 4-H has been green since 1902.

    June 24, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
  19. Susan Sewald

    My children have hand raised dozens of 4h animals. They have learned responsible behavior through this program, the economic benefit of raising a meat animal in a humane environment, and they understand the role their animals play in the food chain. Do they sometimes love their animals? Yes! And sometimes it does make it hard to lead them to that truck in the end. But they are committed to an industry that provides human beings with a valuable source of protien and that feeds the world. While my kids are out cleaning pens, feeding and grooming their animals, check to make sure yours aren't ripping human "enemies" up to a bloody pulp with a machine gun on their Black Ops video game. Now that's producing a "sensitive" kid.

    June 24, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
    • Mendy Sellman

      You put into words exactly what I was thinking! Good job. :0)

      June 24, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
  20. t. hodge

    You have got to be kidding me about the 4-H clubs...they are an organization that supports good ethical growing up in america standards and teaches good animal habits. Now I want everyone to go out and help support a 4-H'er !!!

    June 24, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
  21. Tonee

    4H is nothing short of evil and should be outlawed.

    June 24, 2011 at 11:58 am |
    • alison

      why? why is it so evil? Did you read anything 4-Hers have posted here?

      June 24, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
    • BeReasonable

      Great argument; very direct and to the point. Oh, for the record, it's pretty obvious that this was only posted to see people react. Relax everyone, I wouldn't get too worked up over this one.

      June 24, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
    • Trevor

      4H is nothing close to evil. IT teaches us life values and not to be judgemental about something they probaly have no idea about like some people. -from a CURRENT 4her

      June 24, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
    • 4-H MOM

      Seriously!!!!! you have no idea what you are talking about!!!!!

      June 26, 2011 at 12:34 am |
    • I am a 4-H'er

      Horror movies, slutty celebrities, pornographic movies, smoking, abusive drinking... These should also be outlawed. How can you compare something as wholesome as 4-H to those?

      June 26, 2011 at 11:41 pm |
  22. alison

    Do you even realize how valuable 4-H is to a community? I have been a proud member of 4-H from the age of 7 to the age of 19. 4-H has taught me how to be a responsible adult, how to care for animals properly, how to train a dog humanely, how to cook, sew, draw, paint, identify rocks, build rockets, and plant a sustainable garden. Likewise I showed horses and goats for several years and I can tell you I have been behind the front lines of the animal division of 4-H. You will never ever find better cared for animals then you do at a 4-H fair. Our pledge is "I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service, and my health to better living for my club, my community, my country, and my world" We pledge to think logically and humanely, we pledge to love our animals for what they are and treat them with the utmost respect, we pledge our hands to committing acts of kindness toward those around us be it animals or humans, and we pledge to live healthy lives meaning we do not take poor care of our animals or ship them off to large animal processing plants. We sell them locally to people who appreciate our hard work of tenderly raising the animal from birth. We do all of this for ourselves, our families, our communities, the United States of America, and we even have international programs where we go to other countries and teach them just how valuable of a lesson it is to be fair and just to all creatures.
    Obviously you have never actually been to a local 4-H fair. Every year I have watched dozens of kids that range in age from 8 to 17 cry and hug their cows that are about to be sent into the auction ring for slaughter. Likewise when they have to auction their meat pen rabbits (which are often required to be slaughtered before hand) their parents often have to take the rabbits into the ring because the children are crying too much. In a day and age when the care of our animals is of the utmost importance, organizations like 4-H and FFA set shining examples of how animals should be treated before consumed. I dare you to come to one of our 4-H fairs and look at all of the cattle that are lovingly brushed, decorated with ribbons, given names, and well cared for by their children. Also I dare you to sit in on an auction and see how common it can be for relatives to buy the animal so at least the child knows where it is going. Do not accuse 4-H for teaching children how to be responsible and loving toward other living things. Get your facts straight.

    June 24, 2011 at 11:58 am |
  23. Maddi

    As a past 4-Her who raised cattle and saw my 4-H friends raise all kinds of animals – I completely disagree that we are the kind of people who are desensitized to killing animals. In 4-H, I gained an appreciation for my food, where it came from, and the people who produce it.

    What's sad to me is the desensitization of kids who were not as lucky as me to learn about and respect the food chain. Kids who don't understand this process are similar to kids who think you put a credit card into a machine and you get money. Good nutrition doesn't come from a grocery store - it comes from farms all over the United States and the world.

    All the 4-Hers in my club and county value hard work, a direct lesson we learned from all our projects, including raising our calves, hogs, goats and chickens.

    June 24, 2011 at 11:53 am |
  24. Shelbie

    One thing this article failed to mention is how sensitive 4-Hers are to the animal. I was raised with 4-H, I was taught to care for the animal before myself; breakfast came for the animal before it did for myself. 4-Hers are taught how to properly care for the animal including nutrition, stable living conditions, and what truly makes an animal happy and healthy. From the beginning of time animals have been used to survive for humans. Cave men: paintings of men fighting for their survival. Bible stories: sacrificing animals for the lord. Mayans: killed animals. Throughout the history humans have given to the earth and the earth gives back. Humans survive with meat, basic knowledge. Should we call ourselves murderers if we find a beautiful cherry tree fall in love with it because it has beautiful blossoms and then pluck away the cherries and some day cut the tree down for the use of wood for something as measly as cabinets in our homes. These are our natural resources that we use just as animals are one too.

    June 24, 2011 at 11:44 am |
  25. dianalloydjones

    It amazes me how ignorant people can be in this day and age. How is it that the general population discriminates on a youth leadership development program that does more to defining youth than some parents ever do? The majority of the population does not even know where their meat comes from, or what the meat packing industry does for a living. Indeed, it is illegal to fly over one such meat farm and take pictures because the images are so horrifying. The fact is that 4-H is a program that teaches kids responsibility, ethics, integrity, leadership, and confidence better than almost any other youth organization. If you honestly care where your meat comes from that much, why don't you make a difference as to the treatment the animal receives before it is killed- because you can bet that when the animal is treated correctly (as it is in 4-H) its life will be one that was momentous before it dies, unlike almost any meat farm. Do your research before you talk. Ignorance can only protect your reputation so much.

    June 24, 2011 at 11:27 am |
  26. 4-H mommy

    This is a bunch of crap. Our kids in 4-h do love their animals as they grow and learn just because you don't like meat doesn't mean other people don't! Here in Kansas we know what is right and stick to our values of God, family, and MEAT on our dinner tables. We depend upon agriculture to live around here its the way of life. That's just too bad you city folk think these animals are being mistreated these animals have it good they play, eat, and run around our farms as they grow. And just an FYI the kids don't put the animals on a trailer here off to slaughter. It just goes to show you jerks have no idea how it works so let's makes stuff up. And I have full confidence in our FDA regulations that are on these packing plants. Why don't you look on you tube and see what happens in other countries where there are no stipulations? Just because 1 was bad doesn't make them all bad.

    June 24, 2011 at 11:24 am |
  27. Doug Jardine

    I did not grow up in 4-H because I lived in the city and back in those days 4-H was not yet in the cities. By a strange quirk of circumstances however, my first professional job was as an Extension 4-H youth agent in Michigan. As part of an annual awards ceremony, I invited the local circuit court judge to make a few remarks and help pass out the awards. In his remarks, the judge indicated that while he had not been a 4-H member, he greatly appreciated the 4-H program and then he said the following, "To the best of my knowledge, I have never had a former 4-H member stand accused in my court." From that time on, I vowed that if I ever had children, 4-H would be the only 'required' extracurricular activity in our house. All four of my children were in 4-H from when they were old enough to high school graduation. Compared to their non-4-H friends, their leadership skills and confidence in public speaking have really allowed them to shine in school. It's amazing how much of the high school leadership are 4-H members.

    June 24, 2011 at 11:20 am |
  28. Amanda

    I for one am proud to have been raised in an agricultural community, the daughter of a 5th generation farmer and have witnessed nothing but respect and care for livestock. For anyone to assume that these animals are abused across the entire industry is unfair and quite frankly, ignorant. In a society where we are constantly taught to accept EVERYONE, regardless of race, color, creed, origin and orientation, are we not supposed to remember and appreciate those who actually attribute to our economy by working in a dignified and respectful manner? Programs like 4-H teach children to understand the world of farming and provide the ultimate pride in what they do, not only for themselves, but for the products their families produce.

    June 24, 2011 at 11:18 am |
  29. current 4-h member

    I am aa 4-h member right now and i can tell you that the animals that i rase are respected and treated with the more caser then any fo the animals in the factory farms and i have leaned about things like friendship and respect through 4-h and i will never forget them and i am positive that 4-h doesn't teach kids anything but valuable life lessons. being in 4-h with my friends an neighbors has taught me that a good person with help you out if you need it and always be that for for that people that think 4-h is all about the money or the killing of animals do you have any people in your community that woulddrop anything if you needed help?

    June 24, 2011 at 11:15 am |
  30. Katie

    I am amazed by the lack of education of the agricultural industry in this country. As a life long member of 4-H, I am nothing short of proud of my involvement with livestock projects. As a college student pursuing a degree in agriculture, I only hope that I can benefit the agricultural industry as much as it has benefited me. I have become the person that I am because of 4-H and there is nothing that will deter my opinion of this wonderful youth development program.

    June 24, 2011 at 11:15 am |
  31. AT

    4H is a great program! 4H is preparing children for the real world and farming. People, who are saying terrible things about 4H have no clue about what it takes to become a farmer. Most of the children, that are in 4H are going to be your future farmers and without farmers we would have no food. I was in 4H, when I was a child and it did not desensitize me. Television, video games and texting are the problem!!! This is what desensitizes children. I have seen more killing, abuse, and torturing of animals and people on TV and video games, than anywhere. Change TV and video games violence and change the world!

    June 24, 2011 at 10:52 am |
  32. Meat Master

    I am grateful for the many logical, well thought out responses that have successfully presented facts without emotion getting in the way.

    The most detrimental part of this article are the rash, poorly thought out responses of people in agriculture (or meat eaters in general). 4H and FFA are great organizations, a portion of which is dedicated to teaching youth the importance of their role in continuing the future of agriculture in a way that is responsible and respectful of themselves, their society, the environment, and the animals... But, that point is lost when we react in ways that imply the opposite.

    June 24, 2011 at 10:47 am |
  33. Lisa E

    I am proud to say that my children are members of 4-H, involved in livestock projects, and I am a 4-H adult volunteer. We also run a small vegetable farm. My children get up before dawn every morning to care for their animals and to work in the garden. They are learning responsibility in having to care for something other than themselves. Their animals are well cared-for and loved but my children fully understand that the livestock that they raise are raised as a "meat project". How DARE you accuse my CHILDREN of being "haters" and "cold-blooded killers"! They are loving, respectful, responsible children and those are the values that 4-H promotes! Get your facts straight before you attack our 4-H kids!

    June 24, 2011 at 10:38 am |
  34. 20114H

    Look, 4-H is amazing. One year I showed a pig and at the end of the show season, we butchered it. You raise animals to eat. I'm an offspring of a 3rd generation farmer/rancher. My grandpa raised cattle to butcher. Clean, home bred, angus cattle. I was always raised and taught that no matter the farm animal (cow, goat, sheep, chicken, pig), you are going to eat it. God put the animals on Earth for us to take care of and as a source of nutrition.

    They don't educate only rural people, but also suburban kids. I've gone around teaching about where their food comes from and then it clicks to them. They understand that hamburger doesn't just come from Walmart, but from a cow. It's just simple facts of life.

    Besides, 4-H is much more than just showing animals. We also offer photography, rockettering, robotics, sewing, woodworking, leatherwork, and so much more. It also teaches children how to be responsible. How to take care of things, be on time, public speaking, leadership and citizenship skills, the list goes on. Some of the most succesful people in the world are 4-H or FFA alumni.

    For the whole India thing, it's like in America we don't butcher horses. Different culutures and different belifs. If you like their culture, you should probably go live over their for longer than a few days. I for one, like living in America with our meat-eating ways, Freedom, etc.

    CNN and others need to be more educated. I challenge this reporter to actually go interview some 4-H'ers, extension agents, FFA students, ect. You all are the "haters." And for the record, the 5th H in the all-star emblem is the "HOME".

    June 24, 2011 at 10:35 am |
    • 4-H MOM

      RIGHT ON!!!!

      June 26, 2011 at 12:29 am |
  35. IGotMyStartIn4H

    Look, 4-H is amazing. One year I showed a pig and at the end of the show season, we butchered it. You raise animals to eat. I'm an offspring of a 3rd generation farmer/rancher. My grandpa raised cattle to butcher. Clean, home bred, angus cattle. I was always raised and taught that no matter the farm animal (cow, goat, sheep, chicken, pig), you are going to eat it. God put the animals on Earth for us to take care of and as a source of nutrition.

    They don't educate only rural people, but also suburban kids. I've gone around teaching about where their food comes from and then it clicks to them. They understand that hamburger doesn't just come from Walmart, but from a cow. It's just simple facts of life.

    Besides, 4-H is much more than just showing animals. We also offer photography, rockettering, robotics, sewing, woodworking, leatherwork, and so much more. It also teaches children how to be responsible. How to take care of things, be on time, public speaking, leadership and citizenship skills, the list goes on. Some of the most succesful people in the world are 4-H or FFA alumni.

    For the whole India thing, it's like in America we don't butcher horses. Different culutures and different belifs. If you like their culture, you should probably go live over their for longer than a few days. I for one, like living in America with our meat-eating ways, Freedom, etc.

    CNN and others need to be more educated. I challenge this reporter to actually go interview some 4-H'ers, extension agents, FFA students, ect. You all are the "haters." And for the record, the 5th H in the all-star emblem is the "HOME".

    June 24, 2011 at 10:34 am |
  36. Angus

    This is the most pathetic post I have ever read. 4-H does not DEsensitize, rather it gives the child a more respect for animal life. You city slickers may think you know everything about farming, but I will place money on the fact that most of you CNN and PETA people have never stepped foot on a farm. Before you go blabbing your mouths, know the facts before making ridiculous accusations! Get a life!!

    June 24, 2011 at 10:30 am |
  37. Tiffany

    First of all its very sad that people making comments have to be so belittling of each other here and use such offensive language. Some of the comments here make this incredibly important topic appear so childish because of the childish comments.

    I am proud of the fact that I can say I was a 10 year 4-H member! I was able to participate in so many wonderful activities as a 4-H member, including 4-H camp where I went swimming, made crafts, worked in teams on projects and made lots of friends. I also participated in public speaking contests, learned to sew and cook and yes, I also learned to raise my cattle & pigs and keep detailed records on the cost of raising them. One of the greatest things I was able to do as a 4-H member was show my animals at our state fair! And after I was done showing my steer & barrows, I knew they were going to the slaughter house and then would be in our freezer. Was I desensitized to the killing of my animals – absolutely not!! Livestock serve a purpose and their purpose is to provide food. I can remember my Dad taking me to the butcher (we didn't call it a slaughter house in the small town I was raised in) when we dropped the animals off and yes, I was in the kill floor many times when those animals were being processed.

    My son isn't quite old enough for 4-H yet, but he is certainly looking forward to joining his local club this fall!

    June 24, 2011 at 10:29 am |
  38. boocnn

    I am not interested in peoples choice to eat meat or not. It is the fact that CNN has taken the Global symbol ( a Cloverleaf with four H's on each leaf which stands for Head, Heart, Hands and Health) and has defaced it by adding "hatred". Our motto is, I pledge my Head for clearing thinking, My Heart to greater loyality, my Hands for larger service and my Health for Better Living. For my Club , My Community and for my World. We are a National Organiztion.....with world wide ties.......our kids are not just involved in Livestock. They are about learning life skills such leadership , community service, envirometal education, healthy lifestyles and making independent decisions. Our youth come from ALL walks of life and are taught to be positive and productive indivduals. To respect everyone reguardless of their beliefs. To associate the word "hate" with 4-H organization and members is going way to far.
    To most of you it may be about what you are eating but for me I see a horrible word labeled to a youth organization that has made some outstanding contributions to our world. Please stop fighting over what is on your table and be thankful you have food to fight about. Look at the matter at hand.......CNN owes thousands of kids more than a huge apology.
    If you aren't familiar with our program you can check out your Statewide 4-H website and our National 4-H site.
    Be real journalist and show all sides of the story for a change. We, as intelliegent citizens are fully capable of drawing our own conclusion . Or is that what you are afraid of?

    June 24, 2011 at 10:15 am |
  39. BeReasonable

    Is it just me or has nobody actually found any statistical evidence linking animal abuse/violence to 4H? I'm no expert on the topic, but I'm pretty sure debates are supposed to have "supporting evidence". Maybe 4H does teach people to be abusive; I really don't know. But so far in this discussion, there are just as many 4H supporters and members that claim to not be abusive as there are 4H opponents that claim to not be abusive. That in itself is evidence supporting 4H. Maybe not strong evidence, but it's more that the opposition has, which is nothing. I would also like to point out that I was never in 4H and knew almost nothing about it growing up, so don't think that I'm biased. I will gladly support the opposition if someone can actually provide support for the argument which so far they have not.

    June 24, 2011 at 10:10 am |
  40. peta is a joke

    what a great article.what more could we expect from the liberal misinformed communist news network.i believe in freedom of speech but get your facts right or shut up.

    June 24, 2011 at 10:08 am |
  41. Cindy Warren

    I showed hogs in 4-H. I always thought cattle were a little high maintenance, with all the baths, walks, specialty feed, haircuts, special barns, etc. Yeah, those 4-H kids, sure hated their animals. Are you kidding me? 4-H kids adore their animals – even the smelly goats. Yes, a lot of 4-H families (like the rest of the population) eat meat. And a lot of 4-H animals end up as meat. But, most 4-H animals have a very nice life and receive lots of extra attention. So, the idea that 4-H teaches kids to hate animals holds ZERO logic.
    The logic that holds water is that 4-H teaches kids to care for their animals – it teaches them the responsibility of providing for another living being. Through 4-H children develop leadership skills, communication skills, responsibility, creativity, technical skills, and life skills. It really breaks my heart that 4-H would receive this negative publicity. I hope that anyone with a negative attitude towards 4-H takes the time to develop a relationship with the 4-H organization to learn its true characteristics.

    June 24, 2011 at 10:05 am |
  42. gb

    This is a case in point of being so open minded all of your brains fall out. There's a really disturbing way of thinking out there now that attributes human qualities to animals. An animal must be treated humanely, of course, but they are not people. And their purpose on earth is very different from people's. We NEED 4-H if for no other reason than to make sure at least some of our youth have a clue about this very thing. It's certain that there are plenty who will not.

    June 24, 2011 at 10:04 am |
  43. Cath

    To say that 4H is in any way negatives means you have never been involved with 4H. The program foster respects for all living things. And as far as my person experience is concerned I must concede we are only small herd dairy farmers – but we have been so for over 800 years in Ireland, on the same farm. You cannot farm and not care for the animals. To say that is very naïve. No one puts that much work into the land, sacrifices vacations, money and time to foster something they do not care about. In this country we make pets of everything, often to their detriment. Dogs are not made for baby carriages and co-sleeping in your bed. IT IS NOT IN THEIR BEST INTEREST – but people do it to fulfill some need of their own, not taking the dog’s needs into consideration. In my opinion if children are desensitized to death it’s due to the television and movies they are permitted to watch and the video games their parents are purchasing for them – not because they have raised a cow and sold it.

    June 24, 2011 at 9:58 am |
  44. aj

    this entire blog is screwed up my 4-H chapter never had me raise an animal or kill that animal my 4-H chapter just told me when the cattle show was at the fair, told me when I had to work at the ice cream booth at the fairand that was about it. Our chapter never had anything to do with my animals and my choice to send them to the bucher

    June 24, 2011 at 9:52 am |
  45. thepoint

    I can understand the ire over the headline. The article itself doesn't imply that 4-H is a cruel and terrible organization, but, yes, the headline is provocative and I can understand why folks would be upset over it. The piece itself presents various viewpoints, which seems fair. Also, note that CNN/Eatocracy also previously ran a feature called Five Reasons to Buy from Your Local 4-H. So, no, I don't think there's a vast conspiracy by CNN to take down 4-H :).

    June 24, 2011 at 9:46 am |
    • Randy

      CNN has desensitized kids if anyone has !! There is not a day that goes by CNN does not use the word KILL !! CNN also hates any kind of organizations that they don't agree with or THEIR kids would be misfits in. What about all the killing of humans on CNN ? What about all the killing in the ghetto's? What about the tornado's ? It's a fact of life that things die and get killed !! I now know why liberal kids are behind the rest of the kids, their parents have hid everything from them

      June 24, 2011 at 10:08 am |
  46. bychoiceandnotbychance

    After reading some of the comments on this article, it is truly amazing to see the outstanding support for programs like 4-H and FFA. Both of these programs are internationally known for developing strong leaders, responsible consumers, and informed community members in the youth of our nation, and also around the world. These organizations teach leadership, communication, confidence, and responsibility through agriculture education. The agriculture industry provides 1 in 5 jobs in the United States, and yet, less than 2% of our population is directly involved in production agriculture (dairy, beef, grain, veggies, etc). The students who eventually go back to the farm are providing the rest of us with the freedom to pursue our own interests, rather than scratching out a living from the land, like our grandparents had to do. These students take immense pride in what they do, and work hard every day to provide a wholesome, safe product for all consumers. It is sad to see the hurtful and derogatory comments on both sides of the "eat meat" argument, whether we are talking about pesticides or slaughterhouses, because all of these comments stem from a disconnect from the agriculture industry and a lack of a hands-on, personal experience with the people and the processes involved in raising our food. 4-H and FFA are striving to re-connect the youth of our nation with one of our most important industries: agriculture. Through their efforts, they are not only providing for a future for the agriculture industry, but for YOUR future as well, because as long as there are people who eat, there will be someone to raise what is eaten. 4-H and FFA members go through extensive ethics training programs and certifications to be able to show their animals and sell them at county fairs across the nation. Mistreatment of animals is not tolerated on any level, and I know individuals who have been removed from the show ring for mistreating their animals. Students involved in these programs grow up to be responsible animal owners, raising their animals with care and pride. I am proud to be a former 4-H and FFA member, and am thankful for my upbringing on a small dairy farm–I hope to provide my children with the values I learned on the farm and as a member of these organizations. I encourage all of you to buy locally and to get to know a local grower of meat or vegetables. Get ALL of the facts to support your choice before ridiculing the choices of others. Take ownership in the production of your daily food and fiber, and gain a greater appreciation for those who chosen to make this their livelihood.

    June 24, 2011 at 9:30 am |
  47. Keith Bradbury

    I could not stop laughing at the "desensitizing" remark. It is like saying we should not support Boy Scouts because they teach kids how to start fires. Every few years a group or an individual is so starved for attention they attack something that is the heart of America. I guess, this group/person has chosen 4-H this week. (and a very slow news day at CNN)

    June 24, 2011 at 9:22 am |
    • smh


      June 25, 2011 at 1:01 am |
  48. 4-H Mom of 4 Kids who raise and show livstock

    Are you kidding me, 4-H livestock kids are not desensitized. These children have been raised as compassionate caring kids that love their animals. The animals these kids raise are an investment of their time and money. These kids are lucky to break even financially but the rewards are worth all the cost. These “desensitize” children learn what it takes to care for something that depends on them day in and day out. It’s not like a video game that you can play when you want and then leave it for days, or shoot someone who comes back to life because you want a do-over. 4-H teaches real life, real issues, problem solving. My family and I live and work on the farm. 100% of our income comes from raising crop and livestock, these kids take excellent care of their animals because those animals are their “paycheck”. No one hands them a check every Friday and they know how to work so they don’t stand in the welfare line. 4-H helps parents to guide their children to become productive citizens in today’s society and it also teach tolerance for those who have different opinions than ours. So I would recommend that everyone who believes that 4-H desensitizes kids to killing to spend two weeks with one of the kids and see what 4-H and raising livestock is really all about. It’s easy to judge when you have no experience or first hand knowledge in 4-H or raising livestock.

    June 24, 2011 at 9:22 am |
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