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Is Farm Animal Gifting at Christmas a Good Idea?

Story ID:8533
Written by:Suzana Margaret Megles (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:various various usa
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I think we can all be gullible at one time or another, and I believe
that those people who see the picture of a young smiling African
child receiving a baby goat through Heifter International or another
like organization are gullible if they think - what a great idea to
give this "gift" for Christmas.

Well, I think we should take a better look at this idea from as
many aspects as we can. All-creatures.org had 10 links re reasons
why it is not such a great idea.

If this little post will disway even one person from sending a baby
goat or heifer to Africa, it will have been well worth the time and
effort in writing it.

SPECIEISM -- "Free From Harm's" message caught my eye first on All-
Creatures.org. Among their thoughts: "....Heifer International's
brand of dominionism gives new meaning to this archaic belief of
human privilege over other species."

Yes, I too am against "specieism" which puts one species above
another. However, I also know that I will have to find other
arguments against animal gift-giving because so many people sadly
just don't seem to relate to this notion as we do. Why do we put
man on a pedastal? If you look around the sad condition of the world
today - clearly, he doesn't belong there.

However, I did like their suggestion that Heifer should provide
plant-based products and training so that the poor could then
support themselves without exploiting animals.

MISLEADING BROCHURES --Mary T. Hoffman who manages the All-
Creatures site with her pastor husband Frank, took issue with
Heifer International's slick catalogue which shows erroneous
pictures of happy-looking farm scenes which hide the unspeakable
atrocities which the farm animals suffer.

She feels their promotions are ".....an insidious way of undermining
our (and expecially our children's) God-given sensitivity." She
furthur notes that the pictures of cuddly little animals in their
brochures hides the fact that in reality many of the animals will
be mistreated and probably all will meet a cruel end.

December 2010 - "Christmas is a time of year for generosity and
celebration. In keeping with the spirit of the season, Heifer
International has found a unique way to pervert the meaning of
kindness and joy by bartering animal lives for incursions into poor
nations- while presenting a moral veneer of compassion." I think she
aptly titles her thoughts on this subject -"The Christmas Gift that
Keeps on Killing...."

If this seems harsh, one should only ask - but is it true? Of
course, she, I, and others believe it is. Her post is very
interesting and can be found in its entirety on All-Creatures.org.
There she also writes about Heifer International's origin and the
cost of the animals which can be given as gifts.

REALLY WANT TO HELP PEOPLE? --Stephanie Ernst believes that if you
really want to help people, their environment, and natural resources,
then animal-giving programs are not the way to achieve this. She
quotes Andrew Tyler of Animal Aid who said that such schemes sadly
are not a good thing because they serve only to increase- not
diminish poverty.

His partial explanation re world poverty: "...farming animals is
an inefficient, expensive, and environmentally destructive way of
producing food. All farmed animals require proper nourishment,
large quantities of water, shelter from extremes of weather, and
veterinary care. Such resources are in critically short supply in
much of Africa."

Another issue -farm animal transport can sometimes result in tragedy.
I often get e-mails from Australia denouncing transport of their farm
animals to foreign countries - asking us to petition their government
to halt them. Many of these poor animals are crowded together for long
periods on ships, and some don't survive this horrendous, suffering
trip. Of course, the ones who do survive are not lucky either as they
will be facing some very especially cruel slaughtering practices in
these foreign markets.

Tyler also gives us an example of another issue where one year 80 per
cent of the cattle perished in a drought situation in Africa and then
many of the remainder were washed away in the floods which oftentimes
follow droughts there. Clearly, a waste of precious farm animal lives.
For many of us -all life is precious.

REV. GARY KOWALSKI ON THE HEIFER PROJECT -- A lot of people wrote about
the inefficiency of sending farm animals to the poor countries, but I
like Rev. Kowalski's thoughts and summation perhaps the best. "Globalizing
Amercian farming methods is as big a mistake as cultivating a taste for
lamb chops and barbecue among the world's poor."

He enumerates the important stats which should be considered in this
regard. Among them - an acre of prime agricutural land can produce
40,000 pounds of potatoes, or 30,000 pounds of carrots, or 50,000
pounds of tomatoes, but only 250 POUNDS OF BEEF and the grain that
could feed twenty people suffices for just one cow.

Re the health problems which may occur from sending heifers to Africa-
he reminds us as did others at this site that two-thirds of non-
Caucasians on the planet are lactose intolerant and cannot digest dairy.
And yet he notes that Heifer is spending millions on an initiative like
the Small Scale Dairy Project in Zimbabwe where he says that the last
thing a hungry child needs is a milk cow.

I often remember this truism: "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing."
If you only read the slick promotionals from animal-gifting organizations,
then you do yourself and so many innocent farm animals a great disservice.
I hope that many who took the time to read this post have seriously
considered the points made here in their decision-making re the merits
of animal-gifting.

One last thought -does God care about animals? Well, for me the most
bautiful remembrance during this holy season of Christmas is that He
chose to be born in a lowly cave with a donkey and cow in attendance.
Maybe there was even a dove resting and cooing in a nook. Later, the
shepherds would come with their sheep and lambs. We should realize
from this that God indeed loves His animals. He could have chosen to be
born anywhere, but chose a humble cave kept warm by the breath of the
animals who inhabited it.