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“The ISKCON Ministry for Cow Protection and Agriculture feels it has an obligation to see that ISKCON Law 507 is carried out. However, unless GBC members fulfill their legal duties in this matter by meeting with cowherds and sending us timely reports, we do not have sufficient information to counteract reports of cow abuse that arise, and we cannot completely be responsible for the cows that are part of programs which are developing in ways which are contrary to ISKCON law.”

Call for GBC Cow Protection Reports

Dear Assembled Devotees,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

We are writing to express our concern for the welfare of cows cared for in ISKCON cow protection programs around the world. In 1999 ISKCON's GBC enacted ISKCON Law 507 that provides a carefully formulated set of Minimum Cow Protection Standards for all cows in ISKCON facilities. Crucial to the effectiveness of these standards is Section XIV, which outlines local GBC quarterly responsibility to visit every cow facility and traveling program, meet with its cowherds and ox teamsters, and to submit a written report to the Ministry of Cow Protection and Agriculture detailing the age and health of the cows in the herd and how the standards of ISKCON Law 507 are being maintained. (If the local GBC is not able to personally visit a farm, he or she may appoint a monitor to carry out these duties, though the monitor should not be one of the cowherds, since that defeats the intent of the law, which is to provide a system of checks and balances, and to give the cowherds direct communications with a GBC to communicate pressing needs of the cows.) The Ministry of Cow Protection and Agriculture is then supposed to maintain these reports on file.

The purpose of the cow protection reports is to promote accountability in ISKCON cow programs. With cow reports on file, when the Ministry receives reports of cow abuse, it has a means to ascertain whether such allegations warrant further investigation or whether they stem from misunderstanding. With at least some factual basis, the Ministry can act on allegations and concerns rationally and effectively. Just as importantly, situations that historically have led to cow abuse, such as over breeding, poor fencing, and lack of land, can be brought under control before they lead to disaster. Solutions can be worked out for present problems, and long-range plans made to fulfill Srila Prabhupada's vision of cow protection as a central element of the ideal, healthy spiritual community.

Unfortunately, even though it was they who enacted ISKCON's Minimum Cow Protection Standards into law, the GBC have been overwhelmingly negligent in carrying out their important duty of meeting with cowherds and submitting cow protection reports. In July 2000, the Ministry of Cow Protection and Agriculture sent requests to all GBC and known monitors for cow protection reports. Since then it has sent numerous additional private requests for reports. The response has been negligible. At this point only Pennsylvania's ISKCON Gita-nagari farm is current with all the required quarterly Cow Protection Reports.

The ISKCON Ministry for Cow Protection and Agriculture feels it has an obligation to see that ISKCON Law 507 is carried out. However, unless GBC members fulfill their legal duties in this matter by meeting with cowherds and sending us timely reports, we do not have sufficient information to counteract reports of cow abuse that arise, and we cannot completely be responsible for the cows that are part of programs which are developing in ways which are contrary to ISKCON law. The Ministry of Cow Protection and Agriculture is an unfunded ministry, run by householders who are protecting a small herd of Krishna's cows on their farm and living on a poverty-level income. Thus global trotting to personally visit all centers is not a possibility at this time. Therefore we have spent a great deal of time requesting cooperation with ISKCON law 507 through the facility of e-mail.

To give an idea of why lack of regular reports from the GBC causes us deep concern, consider the example of alleged discrepancies to ISKCON Law 507 which have been presented to our ministry regarding the following three projects:

Vrindavan – The Ministry has received complaints of irresponsible over breeding focused on milk production, resulting in up to 25-30 new animals per year, so that presently there are 217 animals on 7 acres of land (200 cows need at least 200 acres in the Vrindavan climate). Although the natural cow-to-bull ratio is 50/50, the Ministry has received allegations from several sources, which claim that cows outnumber bulls as much as 128 to 62, some allegations say that ISKCON Vrindavana's bulls have been sold to slaughter. These allegations are difficult to refute when no quarterly records of cows (including bulls) names and ages have been submitted. Other allegations state funds allegedly raised to help out the goshalla are often diverted to maintain the temple. If there is no Goshalla Trust established as requested by Srila Prabhupada and as required by ISKCON Law 507, again, such allegations are very, very difficult to refute. The Ministry has received no cow protection reports whatsoever from the Vrndavana GBC, but has received a partial report from a concerned devotee.

Mayapura – Only one report has been received from Mayapura goshalla. Again there is a grave concern for the welfare of the bulls, since there is no regular ox training program, and the cow/bull ratio is alarmingly unbalanced: as much as 93 cows to 15 bulls as of last summer. Furthermore, these 108 animals should have a minimum of 108 acres of land, but is alleged to have less than 5 acres. The production of 25 calves in the past year and no ox program not only indicates over breeding but also a program is dangerously oriented toward milk production, rendering bull calves useless and unwanted. The fact that Mayapur's GBC has not submitted any cow protection report to update the Ministry on conditions since the flood in October causes further concern.

New Gokula, Australia – The Ministry has received allegations of flagrant neglect of animal's health and even violent treatment of animals. The New Gokula GBC has submitted no cow protection reports.

Without the cooperation of the GBC in supplying regular quarterly cow reports, it is difficult to ascertain what the real situation is when we receive allegations like those mentioned above. This poses a potential public relations problem, since such celebrities as Paul McCartney and Jackie Chan have endorsed PETA's attacks on the extensive, and exceptionally cruel cow slaughter practices which have developed in India in recent years. Without regular reports from the GBC, we have no statistical means of defending the practices on ISKCON farms if questioned on these matters.

The following is a list of the GBC with known farms. Please correct us if we have some incorrect information. It is here indicated how many GBC or GBC monitors or head cowherds have completed reports by each farm how many reports have been sent in. Only Gita-nagari is current with their reports – 4 needed each year. The GBC report form and standards (you will need the standards to fill out the forms) can be downloaded from the Resource section of www.iscowp.com. Upon their completion, they can be sent to iscowp@earthlink.net Forms and standards can also be acquired from the ISCOWP address by inquiry. We more than welcome interested persons who would like to help fulfill these reports. Thank you for your consideration, and may this letter find you well and in blissful Krishna consciousness.

Your servant,

Balabhadra dasa ISKCON Minstry for Cow Protection and Agriculture

BB Govinda Swami: Known Farms: Vrndavana, Mauritus, Kazakhstan (no reports)

Bhakti Caitanya Swami: Known Farms: Pretoria (1 report)

Bhakti Swarup Damodar Swami: Farms?

Bhaktitirtha Swami: Known Farms: 2 in France (0 reports), New Vrndavana (1 report), Gita Nagari (current-4 reports), Ghana (0 reports)

Bhaktivaibhava Swami: Known Farms: Czech Republic (1 report), Belarus (0 report), Italy (0 report)

Bir Krishna Goswami Known Farms: New Talavan (no reports), Gokula (1 report), Murari Sevaka (1 report)

Giridhari Swami: Farms?

Gopal Krishna Goswami: Known Farms: Vrndavana (0 report), Mayapur (1 report), Uganda (no report)Maharashtra (0 report)

Guru Prasad Swami: Known Farms: Colombia, Brazil, Mexico (1 report each for Columbia, Costa Rica, Mexico)

Hari Vilas Dasa: Co-GBC for USA: Farms?

Jayapataka Swami: Known Farms: Mayapur (1 report), Karnataka, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, (0 reports)

Kavicandra Swami: Known Farms: Indonesia, Ghana (0 reports)

Madhu Sevita Dasa: Known Farms: Belgium (1 report), Italy, Spain (0 reports)

Malati-devi Dasi: Acting GBC Known Farms: West Virginia (1 report)

Niranjana Swami: Known Farms: Belarus (0 report)

Paramgati Swami: Known Farms: 2 in Brazil, 2 in France, (0 reports)

Prabhavisnu Swami: Known Farms: 3 in Australia (0 reports), New Zealand (1 report), Tirupati, Bangladesh, Malaysia (others 0 reports)

Prthu Dasa: Assistant GBC Known Farms: Murari Sevaka (1 report), Nrsimha-ksetra (0 report)

Radhanatha Swami: Known Farms: West Virginia (1 report), Karnataka, Daund, Maharastra (others 0 report)

Ramai Swami: Known Farms: 3 in Australia (0 reports), New Zealand (2 reports), Indonesia (o reports)

Ravindra Svarupa Dasa: Known Farms: Gita Nagari (4 reports), Nrsimha-Ksetre, Sweden (others 0 reports)

Rohini Suta Dasa: Known farm: Serbia (constant contact), Croatia (0 reports)

Sesa Dasa: Known Farm: Alachua, Guyana (0 reports)

Sivarama Swami: Known Farms: England (2 reports), Ireland (0 report), Hungary (1 report)

Suhotra Swami: Known Farms: Poland (0 reports) Czech Republic (1 report), Begium (1 report)

Tamal Krishna Goswami: Kown Farms: Mayapur (1 report)

Vaidyanatha Dasa: Full GBC Known Farms: Belarus (0 report)

Virabahu Dasa: Known Farms: Argentina 9, Puerto Rico, Guyana, Peru, Ecuador (0 reports)

© CHAKRA 24-January-2001

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