Yes, that would be the US Department of Agriculture, which is supposed to promote agriculture. Agriculture includes cattle ranching as well as farming (and dairies!). One of the most significant duties of the USDA is to rate the quality of meat so that consumers can be sure they’re eating healthy food. So why did the USDA send out a message to its employees discouraging the consumption of meat, using United Nations material? Senator Jerry Moran, a Republican who represents cattle-ranch-heavy Kansas, asked that question on the floor of the Senate yesterday:
“One simple way to reduce your environmental impact while dining at our cafeterias is to participate in the ‘Meatless Monday’ initiative ,” The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) July 23, 2012 “Greening Headquarters Update” read. “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.”
Pointing to the United Nations as their informational authority, the USDA’s newsletter said that going meatless is good for the environment because “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.” It further charged that heavy meat consumption has detrimental health effect.
The USDA later claimed that the message was not authorized for the website and has been removed, and that the USDA does not endorse “Meatless Monday.” Sounds like this agency needs a little less fat and a lot more toughness in its management.