A posting appeared briefly on the USDA website endorsing the “Meatless Monday” campaign, citing health and environmental concerns. The post was quickly removed and disavowed by the agency, but not before the National Cattlemen's Beef Association issued a strong rebuke.

The post, reports Bloomberg, encouraged USDA employees to participate in the program, backed by the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, by taking advantage of all the “tasty meatless options” offered by the agency cafeterias.

The NCBA launched a quick response with a statement from J.D. Alexander, president.

“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,” said Alexander. “USDA was created to provide a platform to promote and sustain rural America in order to feed the world. This move by USDA should be condemned by anyone who believes agriculture is fundamental to sustaining life on this planet.”

USDA goes one step further in its quest to reduce meat consumption, according to Alexander, by specifically calling out beef and dairy production as harmful to the environment. Additionally, the USDA cites health concerns related to the consumption of meat. These concerns are not at all based in fact, according to Alexander, but simply spout statistics and rhetoric generated by anti-animal agriculture organizations. The fact is the consumption of beef is not only healthy, but the carbon footprint of the production of beef has dramatically decreased as a result of innovative environmental stewardship implemented by America’s farm and ranch families throughout the country, NCBA points out.

The USDA removed the statement shortly after. “The USDA does not endorse Meatless Mondays,” a spokesperson e-mailed reporters, adding that the “statement found on the USDA website was posted without proper clearance.”

Source: NCBA, Bloomberg