peta2 is Wrong: FFA is Not Lame
Go to any college of agriculture in America, find a class studying agriculture of any variety, and ask those students their opinion on PETA. I guarantee the question will evoke a negative response from the majority of the class. Why? Because PETA tries on a daily basis to ruin the very thing that drives us, fuels our passion, and provides us with a future; agriculture.
Recently peta2.com, an animal rights group that claims to be an expansion of PETA, put out an article that angered many of my Facebook friends. The post was entitled "FFA is Lame AF". I sighed with disgust before even taking the time to read the article. Sure enough, five minutes later I too was angry.
Just a few weeks before, Temple Grandin stood before me and 349 other agriculture students at Texas A&M University and said, "some people are just too radical; you can't even talk to them, it's not worth your time". With that being said, my response is not for the small minded person who wrote that article. This blog is for my friends and family who might read that and question the goals of the National FFA Organization. As a proud FFA member, I want to share our side of the story. FFA is not lame.
I will use the same points as the peta2 article to debunk the claim that FFA is lame.
1. "Develop my potential for premier leadership, personal growth, and career success."
peta2 used this quote to bash FFA, saying we as members are encouraged to raised animals to be slaughtered. Not true. Each FFA member is required to complete a Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) and fill out a record book. At no point in my FFA career did I ever hear my advisor encourage a student to kill an animal, as the article suggests. Personally, my record books were done on swine finishing. I purchased a pig, treated it with the utmost respect and care, and exhibited it with pride at the county fair. Yes, I then sold my pigs at the Junior Livestock Auction. But no one is forcing us to do so. If I wanted to keep a pig for the rest of it's life, even when it weighs 500+ lbs, I could do that. (With parent approval of course). So peta2, FFA does not encourage killing.
2. "Make a positive difference in the lives of others"
Meat judging is in fact a contest FFA members can participate in. It prepares members with an interest in meats for future careers as meat inspectors, meat scorers, etc. peta2 briefly touches on this event and then moves on to say what happens in slaughterhouses. There are many standards and regulations on how an animal is to be ethically slaughtered. Also, FFA does not have a direct effect on what happens in the slaughterhouse.
3. "Dress neatly and appropriately for the occasion."
This time peta2 decided to talk about the wool judging teams. Yes, we evaluate wool. Wool that is removed from the sheep carefully and ethically. There is no harm done to the sheep in order for this contest to take place. FFA does not control what happens in the wool industry in Australia. The comparison is once again irrelevant.
4. "Respect the rights of others and their property."
It's time to bash the dairy industry (insert eye roll here). I could have seen that one coming. Each year in FFA, I participated in the All American Dairy Judging Contest. We spent the day judging multiple classes and testing our knowledge of the industry. During this event, members proved to be respectful towards each other and the cows. Once again, I'm no expert, but I'm knowledgeable enough to know that cows and their calves are not harmed during milk production. Dairy farmers treat their cows better than many humans treat their children. Let's think about that for a moment.
5. "Be courteous, honest, and fair with others."
Multiple contests revolve around the dairy industry; dairy judging, handling, knowledge, etc. Many of my peers come from family run dairy farms and will one day be managing their own herd. These contests educate FFA members, allow them to gain experience and execute their skills all while being courteous, honest, and fair with others. peta2 doesn't bother to address this, instead they take to bashing the dairy industry once again; specifically artificial insemination. When this is done the cow is artificially impregnated. In order for the dairy producers to efficiently produce milk for our ever growing population, artificial insemination is key. The process is fast, precise, and efficient. Once again, no cows are harmed and it is done with care.
6. "Communicate in an appropriate, purposeful, and positive manner."
Where does poultry evaluation and defamation of the poultry industry fit in here, peta2? To gain the skills listed above, FFA members compete in public speaking contests; another event that is near and dear to my heart. From reciting the FFA Creed, by E. M. Tiffany as a freshman, to competing on a regional winning Parliamentary Procedure Team my senior year, this is where I developed and polished my public speaking skills. FFA members conquer fears, gain skills, and become effective communicators.
7. "Demonstrate good sportsmanship by being modest in winning and generous in defeat."
FFA members foster the importance of both winning and losing with grace. As for the peta2 article, bringing hunting into this again makes little sense. However, hunting was a way of life even in biblical times. That's one tradition all the animal rights campaigns in the world won't end.
8. "Make myself aware of FFA programs and activities and be an active participant."
Participants have the ability to chose from an abundant variety of activities. peta2 relates this to the billions of animals being killed for food every year, stating, "no compassionate person should ever want to participate." The way I see it, (everyone's entitled to their own opinions) is that animals like dogs and cats were put on this earth to be companions. However, livestock are here to provide for us. Does that make me any less compassionate? I believe there is no greater compassion than a farmer awake in the wee hours of the freezing cold morning feeding a new born calf to keep it alive.
I could finish the list, but you see my point. FFA members across the country learn valuable life lessons the best way Americans know how. We are hard working. We are kind and courteous. We are respectful and tolerant, even to those with differing beliefs.
PETA is everywhere. Millions of people follow their word, even if their information is inaccurate and misleading. We need to see their point of view, but work our butts off to educate the public about agriculture; respectfully, courteously, and accurately. It is time for us to get creative and get loud. We need to shout our ag stories, share our knowledge, and our passion! As FFA members, we make up the largest youth organization in the country. We hold the power to educate the world.
peta2, FFA is not lame and your article does not even make sense. I respect the vegan lifestyle. Live your life how you wish. But please, please, please stop criticizing me and my livelihood. You may love tofu, but I love a big, juicy, steak. You tolerate me, I'll tolerate you.