Activists in Long Island have organized a protest movement to stop a family farm from slaughtering its own cow for meat.
Homesteaders Bob and Jean Benner own and operate a 265-year-old farm on New York’s Long Island and were planning to slaughter a specific cow  – nicknamed “Minnie” — but instead are facing a public outcry centered around a “Save Minnie  the Cow” Change.org petition, which had received 4,500 signatures as of April 13, 2016.
Minnie supporters have harassed the family via telephone, social media and even have threatened them, Bob Benner told TBR News Media. They’ve also given the farm, which is called Benner’s Farm in East Setauket, bad reviews.
One reason for the protest is that many local residents are familiar with Minnie because of visits to the farm, and a lot of the protesters brought their children.
The controversy was sparked April 2 when visitors asked what was to become of the cow. They were told it was being raised for meat.
“Jean tried to explain the difference between an animal on a farm and a pet, explaining that our farm was a homestead where we raise animals for meat, as it has been since 1751,” Bob Benner said, according to TBR. “We grow and produce food for our family on our property.”
The Benners are the seventh family that has lived on the farm. They bought the cow in Ohio, WCBS reported.
“The reason we brought it back is that it’s a meat cow , and there aren’t many meat cows on the island that you can find,” Benner said.
‘You Don’t Slaughter Family’
Animal lovers, though, don’t want to see the cow slaughtered.
“There’s plenty of pictures on their Facebook where they call Minnie family,” John Di Leonardo, an organizer of the Save Minnie campaign, told CBS 2. “You don’t slaughter family.”
Di Leonardo and other protestors want to move Minnie to a sanctuary where she can live to a ripe old age.
“Minnie is a thinking, feeling animal just like a dog or a cat,” Di Leonardo said. “She’s beloved by all of the community.”
Bob Benner said he rejects the notion that the cow should have special protection.
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“Why would I send her to live in a sanctuary someplace with no reason for being?” Benner asked. “Her reason for being is to be a meat animal. That’s what she was born to be.”
Benner said he has received an outpouring of support.
“There have been literally thousands of people who have supported us and a majority of them live right here in the community,” Benner said. “The people that are trying to impose their values on us do not live here. We’re talking about a national group of people who have a direction — they’re trying to tell us how to live.”
He does not like the precedent that a sale could set.
“If I do it for you, I have to do it for somebody else,” Benner said. “I have to do it for somebody that falls in love with a chicken in 10 minutes.”
Benner believes that the community is behind him.
“They understand that we care for the animals we raise, and also understand that some of them are being raised for meat,” Benner told TBR. “In part because of our farm, the families who spend time with us are able to have this connection to where food comes from. We are sympathetic that many people today do not have a direct connection to their food source. We get it. There is a disconnect for people, and that is hard. But we are farmers, and we do have that connection to our food.”
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