The Department issues a statement after getting into hot water with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and others...
The US Department of Agriculture late on Wednesday issued a statement saying that it does not support the global Meatless Monday campaign, after a story posted in an online USDA employee newsletter, Greening Headquarters, included the advice "One simple way to reduce your environmental impact while dining at our cafeterias is to participate in the "Meatless Monday" initiative." The article included a link to meatlessmonday.com and other websites that support the campaign to shun meat one day each week.
"Today, we have received a number of inquiries regarding a rumor that USDA is encouraging 'Meatless Mondays,'" Press Secretary Courtney Rowe wrote in an e-mail to reporters.
"USDA does not endorse Meatless Monday. The statement found on the USDA website was posted without proper clearance and it has been removed."
The e-mail came following a protest from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), which issued an outraged statement from President J.D. Alexander saying that USDA's online article "calls into question USDA’s commitment to U.S. farmers and ranchers." He characterized the Meatless Monday initiative as "an animal rights extremist campaign to ultimately end meat consumption."
After USDA sent out its statement, the online link to Greening Headquarters no longer worked, but The Westerner blog, written by former New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture Frank DuBois, had already re-posted portions of the USDA article, noted The Hagstrom Report. DuBois was also outraged over USDA's apparent promotion of Meatless Monday.
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) took to Twitter to express his own outrage.
“USDA HQ meatless Mondays!! At the Dept. of Agriculture? Heresy! I’m not grazing there. I will have the double rib-eye Mondays instead,” King wrote on @SteveKingIA.
Following the Department's clarifying its position, NCBA on Wednesday issued a second statement from Alexander, saying he appreciated USDA "denouncing" the Meatless Monday campaign.
"We appreciate USDA’s swift action in pulling this disparaging statement off its website," Alexander said. "USDA denouncing support of the Meatless Monday campaign is an important step in correcting misinformation about the safety and sustainability of U.S. beef production.”
Not satisfied with e-mailing reporters, USDA also took to Twitter.
"USDA does not endorse Meatless Monday. Statement found on USDA website was posted w/o proper clearance. It has been removed // @FarmBureau," was posted on the @USDAPress account.