Today, U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) asked U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to clarify why the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is demonizing the consumption of meat at a time when our nation's food and livestock producers are struggling under the worst drought since 1956. On July 23, 2012, USDA sent out a "Greening Headquarters Update" newsletter to employees, in which the USDA's Office of Operations encourages employees to participate in "Meatless Mondays" while dining in USDA's cafeterias. The update went on to attack the production of meat in the United States, saying the production of beef has "a large environmental impact," and called on USDA employees to "help yourself and the environment" by not eating meat.
"Never in my life would I have expected USDA to be opposed to farmers and ranchers," Sen. Moran said. "American farmers and ranchers deserve a USDA that will pursue supportive policies rather than seek their further harm. With extreme drought conditions plaguing much of the United States, the USDA should be more concerned about helping drought-stricken producers rather than demonizing an industry reeling from the lack of rain. I have requested that Secretary Vilsack let me know if it is now USDA's official policy to discourage the consumption of American grown meat. It is my hope that the USDA has not abandoned farmers and ranchers in pursuit of policies best left to the Environmental Protection Agency."
USDA's newsletter, which can has since been removed but can downloaded below, makes many dangerous claims about the perceived drawbacks of meat production, while ignoring the role that ranchers and cattlemen play in our national economy. Kansas is the third largest beef producing state in the nation.