The USDA is responsible for watching over produce and meat production in the United States and this week they came under fire for appearing to side with one food-producing industry over another. An email was sent out to employees in which the agency called for a “meatless Monday” program in its cafeterias.
In the agencies newsletter employees were encouraged to help out the planet by dining on vegetarian food on Monday “while dining at our cafeterias.”
Immediately following the newsletter livestock producers and lawmakers threw a fit, especially over a particular portion of the newsletter which read:
“The production of meat, especially beef, has a large environmental impact. … animal agriculture is a major source of greenhouse gases and climate change. It also wastes resources.”
The USDA for its part says the letter was not endorsed by the agency, in speaking out against the newsletter the agency wrote:
“USDA does not endorse Meatless Monday,” said a rep in a statement, explaining the plug “was posted without proper clearance.”
Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley may have had the funniest way of attacking what he called a “stupid” idea. On Twitter Grassley tweeted:
I will eat more meat on Monday to compensate for stupid USDA recommendationabt a meatless Monday
— ChuckGrassley (@ChuckGrassley) July 25, 2012
Representative Steve King also took the same approach, claiming that he would instead eat even more meat on Monday’s:
“USDA HQ meatless Mondays!!! At the Dept. Of Agriculture? Heresy! I’m not grazing there. I will have double rib-eye Mondays instead.”
In the meantime the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association called the move a “slap in the face” to people who work hard everyday to raise livestock for human consumption.