The USDA published the statement on its website last week as part of an internal newsletter. It said “one simple way to reduce our environmental impact while dining at our cafeteria is to participate in the ‘Meatless Monday’ initiative”. However, the Agency removed it from its website later that day, claiming that it had been published without the “proper clearance”.
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) had reacted furiously to the USDA statement, claiming that it called into the question the USDA’s commitment to US farmers and ranchers. It criticised the USDA for specifically targeting beef and dairy production as harmful for the environment, and for quoting health concerns which are not based on fact but “statistics and rhetoric generated by anti-animal agriculture organisations.”
NCBA president JD Alexander welcomed the news that the USDA had retracted the statement, saying: “We appreciate the USDA’s swift action in pulling this disparaging statement off its website. USDA publicly stated today that it does not support this campaign. We appreciate USDA making this right. The agency is important to all cattlemen and women, especially as we face unprecedented challenges, including drought and animal rights extremist groups spreading fiction to consumers who need to know the importance of beef in a healthy diet.
“USDA did right by scrapping this statement and acknowledging the important role of America’s farm and ranch families in providing food for the world. The USDA denouncing support of the Meatless Monday campaign is an important step in correcting misinformation about the safety and sustainability of US beef production.”