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FILE - In this Monday, Oct. 30, 2006 file photo, a Kentucky Fried Chicken employee uses tongs to hold up an sample of the company FILE - In this Monday, Oct. 30, 2006 file photo, a Kentucky Fried Chicken employee uses tongs to hold up an sample of the company's trans fat-free Extra Crispy fried chicken in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)  

USDA newsletter encourages employees not to eat meat, GOP senator calls foul

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Caroline May
Political Reporter

On Wednesday, Kansas Republican Sen. Jerry Moran called on Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to explain why the agency’s employee newsletter encouraged them to not eat meat and participate in the “Meatless Monday” initiative for the environment.

“One simple way to reduce your environmental impact while dining at our cafeterias is to participate in the ‘Meatless Monday’ initiative http://www.meatlessmonday.com/,” The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) July 23, 2012 “Greening Headquarters Update” read. “This international effort, as the name implies, encourages people not to eat meat on Mondays. Meatless Monday is an initiative of The Monday Campaign Inc. in association with the John Hopkins School of Public Health.”

Pointing to the United Nations as their informational authority, the USDA’s newsletter said that going meatless is good for the environment because “animal agriculture is a major source of greenhouse gases and climate change. It also wastes resources. It takes 7,000 kg of grain to make 1,000 kg of beef. In addition, beef production requires a lot of water, fertilizer, fossil fuels, and pesticides.” It further charged that heavy meat consumption has detrimental health effect.

Watch Moran speak about the newsletter on the Senate floor:

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Moran, who represents the third-largest beef-producing state in America, was shocked by the revelation.

“Never in my life would I have expected USDA to be opposed to farmers and ranchers,” Moran said in a statement. “American farmers and ranchers deserve a USDA that will pursue supportive policies rather than seek their further harm.”

“With extreme drought conditions plaguing much of the United States, the USDA should be more concerned about helping drought-stricken producers rather than demonizing an industry reeling from the lack of rain,” he added. “I have requested that Secretary Vilsack let me know if it is now USDA’s official policy to discourage the consumption of American grown meat. It is my hope that the USDA has not abandoned farmers and ranchers in pursuit of policies best left to the Environmental Protection Agency.”

The “Greening Headquarters Update” has since been removed from USDA’s website.

According to the Wyandotte Daily News a USDA spokesman explained, “USDA does not endorse Meatless Monday. The statement found on the USDA website was posted without proper clearance and it has been removed.”

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