USDA says it never meant to endorse ‘Meatless Mondays’

 PhotoXpress

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has pulled an internal newsletter that suggested employees consider reducing their meat consumption, following a backlash from groups representing the meat industry.

The newsletter, titled “Greening Headquarters Update,” described initiatives department employees could take to reduce energy use and waste. Suggestions included participating in a program called Meatless Mondays, an international event created by the nonprofit group The Monday Campaigns and the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. The newsletter has been removed from USDA’s website, but is still viewable at the website of Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan. 

According to the newsletter, meat consumption has a large environmental impact. The article cited a United Nations report that said farmers require 7,000 kilograms of grain to produce 1,000 kilograms of beef, along with large quantities of energy, pesticides and water. Several U.N. agencies, including the Food and Agricultural Organization and the U.N. Environmental Program, have published reports in recent years linking higher meat consumption with climate change.

“In addition,” the newsletter said, “there are many health concerns related to the excessive consumption of meat. While a vegetarian diet could have a beneficial impact on a person’s health and the environment, many people are not ready to make that commitment. Because Meatless Monday involves only one day a week, it is a small change that could produce big results.”

Groups representing the meat industry were outraged by the newsletter’s content. In a statement distributed by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, President J.D. Alexander lambasted the department’s stance.

“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,” Alexander said. “USDA was created to provide a platform to promote and sustain rural America in order to feed the world.”

Moran also posted a statement on his website directed at Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, asking if it was the department’s policy to endorse diets without “American-grown meat.”

He noted: “American farmers and ranchers deserve a USDA that will pursue supportive policies rather than seek their further harm.”

Earlier this year, USDA released requirements for school lunches that reduced the amount of meat and meat equivalents required in school lunches.

Stephanie Chan, a USDA spokeswoman, clarified in an email to Government Executive that the department does not endorse “Meatless Mondays” and the newsletter, now removed, was posted without proper clearance.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.