Heritage breeds of livestock are pre-industrial farm animals whose unusual appearances and remarkable qualities take us back to our nation’s agrarian roots — and may show the way to a more sustainable future. Their value as agricultural and cultural resources was honored by the U.S. Postal Service on stamps dedicated today at a ceremony at George Washington’s Mount Vernon in Virginia.
“The stamps beautifully represent the priceless genetic diversity of heritage breeds in the United States,” said dedicating official, Steve Monteith, U.S. Postal Service chief customer and marketing officer. “Understanding the history of heritage breeds and their abilities for survival and self-sufficiency — it’s easy to see their value.”
Joining Monteith at the historic venue for the first in-person stamp dedication ceremony of the year were Douglas Bradburn, president and CEO, George Washington’s Mount Vernon; Alison Martin, executive director, and Jeannette Beranger, senior program manager, both from the Livestock Conservancy; and Aliza Eliazarov, whose photographs were used to design the stamps. Historical actor Dan Shippey was also on hand.
The pane of 20 stamps includes photographs of 10 heritage breeds: the Mulefoot hog, the Wyandotte chicken, the Milking Devon cow, the Narragansett turkey, the American Mammoth Jackstock donkey, (second row) the Cotton Patch goose, the San Clemente Island goat, the American Cream draft horse, the Cayuga duck and the Barbados Blackbelly sheep.
The stamps were designed by Zack Bryant using photographs by acclaimed heritage breeds photographer Aliza Eliazarov. Greg Breeding served as art director.
The Heritage Breeds Forever stamps will always be equal in value to the current First-Class Mail 1-ounce price. News of the Heritage Breeds stamps is being shared with the hashtag #HeritageBreedsStamps.
With the worldwide adoption of industrial farming, a few breeds of livestock were standardized for maximum productivity. As a result, many other breeds with different traits are now critically endangered, and several are extinct. In addition to retaining genetic diversity to help farms adapt to changing conditions, heritage livestock are also a valuable cultural resource as the breeds demonstrate the farming practices of earlier periods in American history and illuminate ancient agricultural traditions. Across the country, living-history farms and historical sites are working with breeders to acquire and raise heritage breeds, not only to preserve these animals but also to provide a more authentic sense of the past