PETA activist blasts FFA members; it’s time to set the record straight

Last week, while more than 7,000 cattle producers gathered in San Diego, Calif., for the 2016 Cattle Industry Convention, PETA activist Emily Rohr was busy penning an opinion piece about how lame and hypocritical FFA members are. Using the pillars that uphold the ideals of an FFA member, Rohr cited 11 reasons why FFA members’ ethics are lacking when it comes to animal care.

The FFA pillars of leadership in agriculture I’m referring to include:

  1. Develop my potential for premier leadership, personal growth, and career success.
  2. Make a positive difference in the lives of others.
  3. Dress neatly and appropriately for the occasion.
  4. Respect the rights of others and their property.
  5. Be courteous, honest, and fair with others.
  6. Communicate in an appropriate, purposeful, and positive manner.
  7. Demonstrate good sportsmanship by being modest in winning and generous in defeat.
  8. Make myself aware of FFA programs and activities and be an active participant.
  9. Conduct and value a supervised agricultural experience program.
  10. Strive to establish and enhance my skills through agricultural education in order to enter a successful career.
  11. Appreciate and promote diversity in our organization.

Rohrs takes these 11 leadership items and twists them to match graphic and violent memes of animal agriculture. Rohr concludes her dramatic and misconstrued diatribe with, “Are you an FFA or 4-H member with a ‘beef’ with the organization? Quit! Go vegan, and join the peta2 Street Team to make a REAL positive difference in the lives of others.”

READ: “FFA is BAE: How ‘the article’ got it all wrong” by Kelli Ann Garry

While I’m sure Rohr’s page views are through the roof as those of us in animal agriculture clicked on her article to read the misinformation presented, I also imagine that many impressionable teens and folks outside of agriculture read this article and took the violent images at face value.

Iowa farmer

This is an opportunity to share our story on social media. I encourage you to share the positive ways FFA has impacted your life, how growing up on a farm or ranch taught you to appreciate and understand the circle of life and death and how food gets to the dinner table and by-products enhance our lives, and that youth in agriculture are the future of food security around the world.

Agricultural education and the FFA experience certainly opened up many doors for me and taught me important life lessons along the way. Through competing in livestock judging, job interview, public speaking, extemporaneous speaking and food science, I developed my skills as an agricultural communicator. Through my network of peers in FFA, I’ve met lifelong friends who encouraged me to explore things in college like competing on the meats judging team, where I met my husband.

This network continues to be mutually beneficial years down the road, as we continue to communicate and share opportunities as they arise. FFA also fostered a spirit of fellowship, community service and giving back to others, which I’m extremely grateful for. And finally, FFA helped me gain more knowledge in the agricultural industry I’m passionate about, and gave me a true appreciation for the real pasture-to-plate story.

So while my experience in FFA might not be thrilling enough to make headlines, recruit to my cause, or drum up donations (which is exactly what Ms. Rohr is aiming to do in this article), I’ll proudly stand by the National FFA Organization and the future leaders in agriculture who are developed through this program.

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Penton Agriculture.

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