Rare animal breeders in many countries are supported in this critical work by private foundations. As you are probably well aware the results of careless or greedy breeding is a degeneration in the quality of the livestock. Some breeds ( like holsteins) take over the markeplace as their milk production is maximized. With sperm shipments, more and more cows are bearing heifers from the same top bulls. This is efficient in terms of a nice genetic makeup for the calf, but it means less diversity in the overall cow-population.
Less diversity= brittle ecology.
Another point. The cattle which are currently "economically viable" are those who are bred for maximum production under ideal production conditions. They are similar in that way to the 'green revolution crops' who do well when they are well irrigated and well medicated with agri-chemicals. The heartier breeds (land races, and older varieties ) such as Devon, Short horn, Long horn, scottish highlander-- were adapted by farmers in harsher conditions to survive and thrive in harsher conditions. Harsher condions are what we are getting this winter, and harsher conditions is what its going to take if we are going to move beef production out of the feedlot and onto the many pastures that stand either vacant or briarfilled in the regions near our big cities.
SO its not an elitist thing. Its actually a scrappist thing to have these rough-tumble breeds. They are Dexter, Kerry, Luing, Grey Swiss.. and others. They are stocky and stroppy and thicker in the ankle. They are more tomboys less top model.
You get the picture. We need more mindful and respectful breeders-- go find someone to apprentice under!
pro specia rara