It seemed harmless enough. A short paragraph in the July 23, 2012 United States Dept of Agriculture’s interoffice newsletter stated that the USDA cafeteria will be participating in the “Meatless Monday program” as promoted by the John’s Hopkins School of Public Health and the non-profit Monday Campaign Inc. Pointing out the environmental and health benefits of eating less meat, the newsletter encouraged USDA employees to participate because eating less meat is “a small change that could produce big results”. The newsletter went on to point out that the production of meat (especially beef) is a major source of greenhouse gasses and it wastes resources as it takes 7 kg of grain to make 1 kg of beef. They even stated that the cafeteria has “tasty meatless options… So you can really help yourself and the environment while having a good vegetarian meal!”
Sounds great… to most.
It only took 24 hours for the cow-manure to hit the fan as the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (what…no cattle-women?) and the American Meat Institute (not to be confused with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) rounded up the posse to undo the great American injustice of suggesting that we try to eat healthier and conserve energy.
Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas (the #3 beef producing state in the US) said on the floor of the senate, “Our own Department of Agriculture is encouraging people not to eat meat!” Our own Dept of Agriculture? Wonder who he means….
Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa. tweeted, “Heresy! I will have the double rib-eye Mondays instead.” I bet you will, senator…I bet you will.
It only took 48 hours for the newsletter to be promptly removed from the USDA website. (But you can see it here.)
A spokesman for the USDA stated that the newsletter was posted “without proper clearance”. Proper clearance indeed. They should check with the Beef Association next time they want to do something this un-American.
It’s not hard to see who’s the top “bull rider” in this rodeo…and who’s the rodeo clown.