The Importance of International Heritage Breeds Week
Each year in May, as my birthday and Memorial Day are approaching, I prepare to share information about heritage breeds and to highlight International Heritage Breeds Week. The first Heritage Breeds Week was a national effort by The Livestock Conservancy across the United States in May, 2015. At the time, I was raising several breeds monitored by this organization, whose mission is "To protect endangered livestock and poultry breeds from extinction." Since 1977, The Livestock Conservancy has succeeded in that mission. Worldwide, one heritage livestock breed becomes extinch each month, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. However, no heritage breeds have been lost in the United States since The Livestock Conservancy was started. The first Heritage Breeds Week was so successful that it is now an annual international event with a consortium of eighteen partners around the world. This "event" is actually a series of events around the world. All stewards and advocates of heritage livestock are called to participate. I have enthusiastically answered this call every year since the event began, and this year is no different. In the month of May I have given interviews to AP journalists, given guided tours on my farm, given live talks in my community, written blog posts like this one, and discussed the topic as a podcast guest. For several years I have hosted a Facebook fundraiser for The Livestock Conservancy around the time of my birthday. I encourage those who support this cause to think about what you can do thisweek and in the upcoming years to help. I generally begin planning in January. Of course, I support heritage breeds fifty-two weeks of the year through writing, working, speaking, and monetary support. I have been a member since 2010 and have contracted part-time work for the organization since January 3, 2019. This year, on May 17, the United States Postal Service is releasing a series of heritage breed stamps to highlight ten of the heritage breeds, and a celebration to commemorate this event will be held at George Washington's Mount Vernon. When I talk about the heritage breeds, I emphasize the biodiversity that each breed has and how preserving genetics could save us from a future food crisis. I also share stories about the unique characteristics of animals developed to fit a unique niche in place and time over centuries. These animals have fed us,clothed us, carried us on their backs, pulled out wagons on the Oregon Trail, and were the pride of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. They've helped plow and fertilize our land, lit our lamps, greased our wagon wheels, and more. As a nation, we protect our national resources, historic neighborhoods and buildings, and our national parks. The heritage breeds are, as the name suggests, part of our heritage, our culture, and our history. I want my grandchildren and my great-grandchildren to have a chance to see or own the same heritagebreeds that I had the pleasure to steward. You do not need to raise livestock or poultry to help this cause. You can join or donate to The Livestock Conservancy, share information with your friends, purchase fiber or fiber products made from heritage breeds,purchase meat or eat at restaurants that feature heritage meat, buy heritage turkeys for Thanksgiving, host a Facebook fundraiser, and more. I am offering a sale on all three versions of my book Saving the Guinea Hogs in celebration of this special ocassion. You may want to purchase the softcover from The Livestock Conservancy Store. It will not be on sale on my website until May 22. I will sell it for $19.99 from May 22-June 5. The hardcover book is on sale for $27.99 at my ecommerce store May 16-June 5. Both print books include free USPS media mail shipping with tracking. They are autographed and can be personalized by request. The Ebook is on sale for just $2.99 May 16-June 5. Thank you for whatever you do to support heritage breeds and the organization whose mission is to save them from extinction!