May 14, 1945, is a special day in Heifer International history. It marks a dream finally realized.
The Heifer Project, Dan West’s dream of sending cows to Europe to help starving war victims, came to life in April 1942. The Church of the Brethren Northern Indiana District Men’s Work organization adopted West’s idea and named a committee to get it going. The idea caught on, and by January 1943 it became a national program of the Brethren Service Committee. However – and this is a BIG however – with World War II raging, shipping live cargo across the Atlantic was simply out of the question. And not for the lack of trying on the part of the Heifer Project Committee to get heifers to Belgium and Spain. In 1944, with plenty of heifers ready to go, the committee sent a small pilot shipment instead to Puerto Rico.
Concurrently, the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration was in the planning stages of how they would operate when hostilities ceased. Despite West’s attempts to get UNRRA to agree to ship Heifer Project animals, UNRRA did not intend to ship live cargo. But when the Near East Foundation requested bulls for Greece to help the country’s devastated dairy industry rebuild, UNRRA approached the Heifer Project for assistance with a pilot project of their own. Brethren Pennsylvania diary farmer and Guernsey breeder Benjamin Bushong was drafted to obtain the bulls for the Heifer Project and see them to the ship. May 14, 1945, just six days after V-E day in Europe, six purebred bulls sailed for Greece. Bushong became Executive Secretary of the Heifer Project later that year and often joked that the first “heifers” to Europe were “six bulls.”
Read the story of that first European livestock shipment for both UNRRA and the Heifer Project in two parts here and here.
Congratulations Heifer International on another live-saving milestone!
Those bulls were gathered on the farm of W. Roger Roop and Olive Roop. As a child I recall that I was not allowed to go outside while those bulls were on our farm.
It actually was a later shipment of bulls that would have been collected at the Roop Farm. This particular set of bulls was purchased for the Heifer Project by Benjamin Bushong in Pennsylvania and delivered dockside by him to Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, before the Roop Farm was in use by the Heifer Project Committee. And this was also before Benjamin Bushong became executive director of Heifer Project. The Heifer Project Committee accepted your father’s offer for use of your farm on June 3, 1945. I’ll make a post on that on June 3 for the first collection farm 75th anniversary.