By now, you’ve probably heard that USDA was called out by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, among other industry groups, for appearing to promote Meatless Mondays.
In an internal newsletter circulated among department staff, an article offered tips on how to reduce one’s environmental impact. “One simple way to reduce our environmental impact while dining at our cafeteria is to participate in the Meatless Monday initiative,” the article stated.
Meatless Mondays, of course, is a high-profile campaign launched by veggie activists affiliated with Johns Hopkins University and embraced by anti-industry opponents—not as a way to reduce one’s carbon footprint but to raise certain group’s pubic profile. The transparent goal in all of the campaign’s messaging is that red meat production—all of modern intensive animal agriculture, for that matter—should be considered as a primary villain in causing a variety of negative ecological impacts.
It took only milliseconds for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association to complain about the newsletter posting, noting in a statement that Meatless Monday is little more than “an animal rights extremist campaign to ultimately end meat consumption.”
“This is truly an awakening statement by USDA, which strongly indicates that USDA does not understand the efforts being made in rural America to produce food and fiber for a growing global population in a very sustainable way,” said NCBA President J.D. Alexander. “USDA was created to provide a platform to promote and sustain rural America in order to feed the world. This move by USDA should be condemned by anyone who believes agriculture is fundamental to sustaining life on this planet.”
(By the way: Those two sentences represent one of the strongest, clearest and most compelling responses anyone in industry has put forward in quite a while. Nice job, NCBA).
USDA officials promptly removed the posting after NCBA’s statement was released,noting that the posting was made “without proper clearance,” according to the Associated Press.USDA spokesperson Cortney Rowe noted that the department does not endorse the Meatless Monday initiative, which she characterized as part of a “global public health campaign.”
Nice try, Ms. Rowe.
Deleting the offending post might have been the end of the affair, but before USDA officials could put the matter to rest, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) went public with criticism of the department for promoting Meatless Mondays, and in a provocative response, promised to personally eat more meat to make up the difference.