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Here We Go, Again

Written by Dennis Sun

A while back, the U.S. Department of Defense, listing climate change as the reason, encouraged the military to support and enact meatless Mondays, much to the dismay of thousands of livestock producers and organizations across our nation.

Our President is using climate change to list the wolverine and jump-start a whole list of other executive decisions, most without sound science. Now they are targeting what our service men and women put on their plates three times a day. The Administration is intruding into the lives of our military personnel, and most of them really don’t have much of a choice in what they eat every day.

This misguided movement keeps rising up all the time across the nation. In 2012, it started with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), in an e-newsletter, encouraging employees to participate in meatless Mondays. Between the livestock organizations’ and livestock producers’ quick action, USDA quickly removed the offending post, claiming it was for the good of the environment and personal health.

This time, some members of Congress quickly got involved, one being Sen. Joni Ernst from Iowa. She quickly introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, citing the federal government’s dietary guidelines as reason to ensure that members of the armed forces get enough meat to satisfy their protein requirements. In an emailed statement, Ernst described meatless Mondays as “misguided at best” and in conflict with dietary standards.

“Our men and women in uniform should have the option to consume the protein they need, including meat, on a daily basis,” she said.

Freshman Sen. Ernst, who was born and raised on a farm, received national attention during her 2014 Senate election with a television ad called, “Squeal.” In the spot, she promised to make lawmakers in Washington squeal the same way as she did castrating pigs. It must have been effective. She got elected, but you know, Iowa is the national leader in pork production and the second largest producer of red meat overall. I respect her support, and you should, too.

And again, our ol' buddies the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) are supporting the effort. The animal welfare group provides training and recipes to help facilities reduce their meat consumption. The group has helped the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut to cut meat consumption by 10 percent in three years. I guess eating bugs and nuts will help them float. I could go without meat at times, but it would take a good bowl of macaroni and cheese to do it.

So far the U.S. military does not currently participate in meatless Mondays, nor has there been any evidence that any branch intends to enforce it anytime soon. But I imagine someone, some group or even our President will bring it back.

As a big part of our meat industry, we need to strongly support our way of life with a positive voice of one instead of bickering among ourselves and organizations. The quality and healthy attributes of the meat we raise speak for themselves. That’s a given, but we have to combat those groups against us by getting good information out to consumers and others. Only by working together, we will prevail. Get off your duff and get to it.