I am a member of the Wetzel County 4-H and FFA Livestock Club. I firmly believe the by-law recently passed within our club allowing the use of non-veterinarian approved or prescribed drugs for the purpose of changing an animal's temperament while in the fair is absolutely crazy. I know I am not the only person in my community or club who feels this way. There are members in our club who do not hold with the idea of using drugs on their animals and will not be doing so; however, there are also the people who suggested this idea and most definitely will be using it to their advantage. I believe this is simply an unsafe idea, because without testing the animals for the presence of drugs, the general public has no way of knowing what that animal has consumed. I am not saying I expect any problem with the slaughtered animal's meat being dangerous to eat, but I do know there is always the possibility. Whether the product used is said to be all-natural or not, you can't know that whatever affected that animal won't affect a human as well.
In another aspect, for the children competing in the show ring, this rule is really not fair. As I said, there will be those who have different morals and will refuse to use drugs in their animals. When those same animals go up against an animal that has been drugged, the odds are highly in favor of the sedated animals because they will be more willing to comply with their showmen. I strongly believe the National 4-H Club and the National FFA Advisors would agree that this is in some ways unethical and not something they would willingly support.
I have been a member of this organization going on five years now, and I truly believe this by-law change may very well cost us support in the community, and that's not something we can afford. We live in a small area and our livestock sale and club functions depend on our community's willingness to support us. I don't think this law will add to that support.
In the end, it all comes down to making this organization beneficial to the children. I don't think we should be allowing children to drug their fair projects and then tell them not to use drugs themselves. To me, that seems like a bit of am mixed message. I would encourage anyone else who feels that drugging our fair exhibits, the same ones that we will be selling at our livestock auction, is wrong, to express your opinion.
The bottom line is: We need to do right by the kids, because in the end, isn't that what 4-H and FFA are all about?
(Editor's note: It looks like the club's decision may not be final. See the related article:
The Wetzel County 4-H and FFA Livestock Club held their monthly meeting on April 30 at 6:30 p.m. at the Wetzel County Center for Children and Families.
Vice President Careva Voight called the meeting to order; the secretary, Eliza Cain, then read the minutes, which were accepted as read.
No financial report was given due to the absence of Treasurer Lisa Sidenstricker.
Under old business, there were approximately 20 hogs weighed in for the fair, and under new business, the spring goat and market lamb weigh-in was scheduled for May 4, 9 a.m. to noon, at the fairgrounds.
The feeder calf weigh-in is set for May 25, and the scales will be brought around to each farm.
Jeff Greathouse moved to rescind the by-law change allowing drug use in the animals during the fair. After some discussion, it was tabled to the next meeting for more investigation on the subject and the feelings of the community.
The Showmanship Committee was chosen and the members discussed varying options for showmanship awards such as belts, buckles, trophies, or crocks.
The next meeting will be May 28, 6:30 p.m. at the Mollohan Center.