Future Farmers of America & 4-H – The Problem With These Type of Programs
As a kid, you might have grown up with Future Farmers of America or 4H programs around you.
If you didn’t already know, these are programs where kids take on the task of raising and caring for an animal for an extended period of time (such as a school semester). After that, there’s a show where they show off their animals. The animals used in this program are typically cows, goats, sheep, or pigs.
What Happens During These Programs?
The animals that are used for these Future Farmers of America rarely ever have a happy ending.
After the program is over, there are two fates that these animals are forced to endure. The first option is that they will be sold at an auction to be slaughtered for people to eat. The second option is that they will be used as a breeder, being kept in captivity and then eventually killed after they reach a certain age.
I believe that people who join Future Farmers of America (FFA) of 4-H programs do have good intentions in mind, and they do care about animals. At the very least, they’re interested in animals.
The problem with these programs is that they don’t teach kids to view animals as beings. They don’t teach kids how smart these animals are or anything like that.
Instead of having to study a pig’s behavior, they are told to fatten the pigs up so they can become bacon.
The kids in the Future Farmers of America program aren’t taught the truth about these animals and where they come from.
For example, for all the kids that are assigned a calf for this program, where do they think the calf comes from? The baby cow was stolen from his mother after birth, just for the purpose of kids bottle feeding them and caring for them.
However, the only one that should be caring for that calf is his mother.
Most kids have no idea about this. They don’t think about where the calf came from or why they are doing this. They just do what they are told, which is to turn the cow into a good breeder, or to fatten him up to become hamburgers.
When kids participate in the Future Farmers of America program, they become very disconnected once the program is over.
After spending weeks or even months with one animal, most of the kids become very attached to the animal.
They become friends, and they truly do care about these animals. However, once the program is over, they are forced to abandon these animals.
I have seen so many videos of kids crying once their calf is taken to auction for slaughter, begging anyone to let them keep the calf.
These kids know that the animals deserve better, but at the end of the program, they have no choice. They are often ridiculed for crying, and once their animal friend is auctioned off, they are told to “celebrate.”
This entire process creates a large disconnect and hardens kids, teaching them that in the end, animals are meant to be food. And we know that this isn’t true.
There are so many other alternatives to these cruel programs that could be done instead.
For example, there are some high schools that offer “livestock education” classes. In these classes, the kids actually learn about the animal.
They learn about the 4 compartments of a cows stomach, they learn about common illnesses that these animals get, what food is best for them to eat, how they grow, etc.
These programs can be paired with trips to farm sanctuaries so they can interact with these animals in person. It’s totally understandable that kids are interested in animals and want to be around them, and who can blame them? Animals are such gentle and loving creatures.
In the end, these FFA and 4-H programs create a huge disconnect between children and animals.
These kids are taught that animals belong to us, to use for food or breeding.
The notion that animals are only here to be eaten is instilled into their brains at such a young age that they often carry this brainwash with them throughout their entire lives. Many of the kids who participate in these programs might even grow up to be farmers themselves, sending off not just 1 animal to slaughter, but thousands, or hundreds of thousands.
The intention of these programs is very wrong and it’s so heartbreaking to witness. It’s of course heartbreaking knowing what fate the animals will have to endure, but it’s also heartbreaking seeing these kids brainwashed at such a young age, when it’s so clear that they want nothing more than to keep the animal that they cared for.
Now over to you…
Have any of you ever participated in a program like this? Do you have Future Farmers of America or 4-H programs in your area? I’d love to hear your thoughts, opinions, and experiences in the comments below.