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They Asked For It

Written by Dennis Sun

     Just when we think we’ve heard it all, the current administration in Washington, D.C. hotshots us back a step or two. Such was the case a while back when the Secretary of Agriculture – that’s right, the head of the USDA (with a capitol Agriculture) – encouraged its employees to participate in “Meatless Mondays” while eating in USDA cafeterias. 

On July 23 the USDA sent out a “Green Headquarters Update” newsletter to employees stating that the USDA Office of Operations encouraged its employees to participate in “Meatless Mondays.” The newsletter went on to “criticize meat consumption by citing the United Nations and claiming that the production of meat, especially beef and dairy, has a large environmental impact and also wastes resources.”

Times must be slow back in Washington these days. A lot of employees who work in Washington, D.C. are now on summer vacation, or in reality, how can one tell if they are or not? Whoever is left must be bored out of their minds. They had to know that this action was going to create a firestorm, and it did.

Not only was it wrong for the USDA to encourage employees not to eat beef, or even have input on what they eat during their lunch hour, citing and listening to the United Nations on any topic was just as bad. Talking about “wasted resources,” what about the President flying around the country everyday campaigning and using all the government planes and cars excessively? Some would even consider the White House garden a waste of resources.

Listening to our own Senator John Barrasso tell the story the other day, one soon realized that his reaction and that of other Senators from beef-producing states was almost a form a entertainment for them. One could tell that they all felt the USDA has acted so irresponsibly it was hard not to see some humor in it. Members of the Senate Western Caucus, of which Senator Barrasso is the chairman, members of the Senate Agriculture Committee and other senators wrote a letter to the Secretary of Agriculture telling him why it was a bad idea to begin with and especially for the government Ag Department. In the end they asked him for a response of which he was obligated to do. Many national beef and ag organizations also blasted the Secretary, and in the end the Secretary retracted the “Meatless Monday” newsletter, saying, “USDA does not endorse Meatless Monday. The statement found on USDA website was posted without proper clearance. It has been removed.” 

Despite the USDA saying it was one person’s fault, we now know there had to be many more involved. In government circles every person has someone watching over them who is responsible for their actions, especially in the communications departments. I would think that the USDA would only serve beef for the next month in their cafeterias. Beef, it’s what’s for punishment. We all know that would only reward them. 

Well, it’s almost State Fair time, so get your minds set for heading to Douglas in the next couple of weeks. The 100th anniversary is something we’re really proud of, and we need to attend the event to show our support of agriculture. 

 Dennis