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Leave 4-H Kids Alone, PETA

I just got home from the South Dakota State Fair last night [3], where yesterday’s big event was the 4-H heifer show. With 67 classes, it was a big event, and 4-H youth proudly wore their bright green t-shirts with the four-leaf clover emblazoned on the front, as they paraded their animals into the ring for the judge to evaluate.

This tradition of 4-H kids showcasing their projects [4] is a great way for agriculture’s future leaders to learn first-hand the ins and outs of the livestock business, and it’s an outstanding activity to keep young people busy, engaged and out of trouble in the summer months.

And, as 4-H youth were busy putting the final touches on their projects, animal rights activists were busy bullying our nation’s finest young people. This year at the Colorado State Fair, there were posters hung up by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) stating their definition of 4-H: “hellish for animals, hazardous to the environment, heart attack-inducing and hypocritical for teaching kids to care about only certain animals and to disregard others.”

PETA was rejected to post the same posters and show a documentary at the Texas State Fair. Meanwhile, in Kansas, PETA was accepted as a vendor at the upcoming state fair in Hutchinson, where they plan to display the posters and show a graphic video. However, they are required to shield the video from those passing by the booth. Interested parties would have to request to view the video.

According to the U.S. Ag Network [5], PETA is retaliating by filing a free speech lawsuit against the Kansas State Fair. They want to be able to make their material visible to everyone at the fair.

“PETA intentionally displays graphic material to get a rise out of people. The State Fair is a family event. PETA’s content will likely be graphic, inappropriate and not suitable for children. This group is not going to the fair to provide factual information. It’s promoting its own anti-meat, anti-dairy agenda with attempts to exploit the innocence of children. How ethical is that? Fair officials should be commended for their judgment to protect fair goers. The State Fair is an event that showcases agriculture. It is disturbing when animal rights groups invade our community [6], distort the truth, and misrepresent our industry,” says Kansas Cattlemen’s Association (KCA) Executive Director Brandy Carter.

In my opinion, this is just another tasteless scheme for PETA to make the headlines and destroy a family event where 4-H youth are at center stage.

Come on, PETA. We can have our disagreements. We can debate all you want. We can talk about the difference between animal rights and animal welfare. But, leave our kids alone.