USDA 'Meatless Monday' gaffe no laughing matter

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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WASHINGTON – A US Department of Agriculture e-newsletter encouraged employees to participate in Meatless Mondays at USDA cafeterias — much to the dismay of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA). However, USDA said the offending post has been removed.

“USDA does not endorse Meatless Monday,” USDA responded via e-mail. “The statement found on the USDA website was posted without proper clearance and it has been removed.”

The item in question is Greening Headquarters Update, a USDA newsletter about the agency’s efforts and initiatives to be more environmentally conscientious at its headquarters and other USDA buildings. In the July 23 edition, employees are encouraged not to eat meat on Mondays citing environmental and health benefits.

"One simple way to reduce your environmental impact while dining at our cafeterias is to participate in the ‘Meatless Monday’ initiative," the newsletter stated. "This international effort, as the name implies, encourages people not to eat meat on Mondays. Meatless Monday is an initiative of The Monday Campaign Inc. in association with the John Hopkins School of Public Health."

The passage goes on to explain how going meatless one day a week helps the environment:

"The production of meat, especially beef (and dairy as well), has a large environmental impact," according to the newsletter. "According to the UN, 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," the passage continues. "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."

NCBA understandably was not supportive of this particular USDA “initiative”.

“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 J.D. Alexander, NCBA president. “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.”

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