A group of U.S. senators has banded together to send a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack regarding the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) recent efforts to discourage employees from eating meat, according to a news release from Idaho Senator Mike Crapo.

The USDA recently distributed a “Greening Headquarters Update”newsletter to employees in which their Office of Operations encouraged employees to participate in “Meatless Mondays” while dining in USDA cafeterias.  The newsletter criticized 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.” 

In response, the Senators sent a letter to Secretary Vilsack noting that such a newsletter raises serious concerns about USDA priorities.  The USDA has since removed the newsletter from its website, but the issue remains as to whether the USDA believes discouraging meat consumption in their facilities reflects the values of the Department and if those values support America’s farmers and ranchers. 

“The underlying issue is that there is a culture at the Department that would allow this to happen,” Senator Crapo, (R-ID) said.  “That a newsletter was released promoting a radical environmental agenda—with no insight that USDA works with animal agriculture as well—is truly disturbing.  American farmers and ranchers deserve a USDA that supports all forms of agriculture and promotes policies that will help those in the industry, rather than a government that caters to extremism.”

“As a senator and part of a family cattle operation, I am appalled by the employee newsletter at the U.S. Department of Agriculture that promoted ‘Meatless Mondays’ and used United Nations material to discourage the consumption of beef,” said Idaho Senator Jim Risch.  “Here is a federal agency that was specifically created to promote nutritious American farm products, yet during a time when beef producers are facing severe drought and high feed costs, they advocate for an action that causes further harm.” 

In addition to Crapo and Risch, the letter is signed by Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyoming), Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Dean Heller (R-NV), Mike Johanns (R-NE), Mike Lee (R-UT), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Pat Roberts (R-KS), and John Thune (R-SD). 

Read the news release online here