An internal USDA Greening Update newsletter that promotes “Meatless Mondays” caused a bit of an uproar on Wednesday.
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) sent out a news release linking to the newsletter and questioning USDA’s commitment to the livestock industry. The newsletter talked about various “greening” initiatives by the agency and suggested that “one simple way to reduce our environmental impact while dining at our cafeteria is to participate in the “Meatless Monday” initiative.” But it didn’t stop there:
The production of meat, especially beef (and dairy as well), has a large environmental impact. According to the U.N., animal agriculture is a major source of greenhouse gases and climate change. It also wastes resources. It takes 7,000 kg of grain to make 1,000 kg of beef. In addition, beef production requires a lot of water, fertilizer, fossil fuels, and pesticides. In addition there are many health concerns related to the excessive consumption of meat.
Within an hour after the NCBA release went out, USDA pulled the newsletter from the initial link and a statement was sent out by USDA press secretary Courtney Rowe. “Today, we have received a number of inquiries regarding a rumor that USDA is encouraging “Meatless Mondays,” she wrote, adding a statement from an unnamed USDA spokesperson that “USDA does not endorse Meatless Monday. The statement found on the USDA website was posted without proper clearance and it has been removed.”
The offending document was found on another link, and you can read the whole thing here where we uploaded it to our server. Just deleting the document from the link does not address this issue at all, since this is an internal newsletter that was sent to USDA employees. That makes this more than a “rumor.” While the Secretary may have been unaware of this gaffe and it may not be “official” USDA policy, the message has been sent to USDA employees that meat is bad for the environment. Not only does this have to be pulled, action should be taken against whoever wrote it and an immediate retraction should be made in a new “Greening Update.”
This is animal activism in a government agency that should be supporting all of agriculture and it is unacceptable.