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AGRICULTURE REPORT - Heifer International - 2004-08-23

Broadcast: August 24, 2004

This is Gwen Outen with the VOA Special English Agriculture Report.

Heifer International is sixty years old. This organization gives farm animals to families and communities around the world. The idea is to fight hunger and poverty. Instead of short-term aid, the animals represent a chance for people to improve their lives and become independent.

Heifer International gives away young cows, known as heifers. But it also gives away other animals. These include sheep, goats, pigs, buffalo, rabbits, birds, even bees.

Celebrations of the sixtieth anniversary are planned in October in Little Rock, Arkansas. That is where the organization is based. Events will also include a Conference on Ending Hunger. The conference will follow a discussion called "the Small Farmer in the Global Economy."

An American farmer named Dan West developed the idea for Heifer International. He was working in Spain in the nineteen thirties during the Spanish civil war. Many families were starving. So Dan West asked his friends in the United States to send some cows. The first ones were sent in nineteen forty-four.

Since that time, Heifer International says it has helped millions of families in more than one hundred countries. Its Web site lists more than four hundred current projects in fifty countries.

The organization provides families a chance to feed themselves and become self-supporting. Those who wish to receive an animal must first explain their needs and goals. They must make a plan for use of the animal. Local experts usually provide training. The animals must be guaranteed food, water, shelter, health care and the ability to reproduce.

Also, those who receive an animal must share their success with someone else in need. Each family must agree to give away the first female animal born. Families must also agree to pass on the skills and training they received. This idea is called “passing on the gift."

The organization has a gift catalog on its Web site to permit people to give money to support its activities. Five hundred dollars, for example, will pay for a heifer. Fifty dollars will pay for a share of one.

The Web site is Heifer is spelled h-e-i-f-e-r. The mailing address is Heifer International, post office box eight-zero-five-eight, Little Rock, Arkansas, seven-two-two-zero-three, U.S.A.

This VOA Special English Agriculture Report was written by Jill Moss and Avi Arditti. This is Gwen Outen.