By Gary Truitt
The month of May is National Beef Month; and beef is getting a lot of publicity, but not the kind we need. The vegans, tree huggers, animal activists, and other anti-meat forces have been joined by a new and rather unlikely group: Republicans. In their non-stop effort to throw the Biden administration under the bus, they are claiming that the President wants to limit meat consumption and confiscate farmland as part of his climate change plan. Fox news reported, as fact, that the President planned to limit Americans to only eating one hamburger per month. Conservatives then spread this like wildfire across social media.
Soon other news organizations, both liberal and conservative, picked up the story. Never asking if it was true, they commented on the subject. Like often happens with such things, the original story was lost and was expanded to many other issues. This included that the government was going to take control of 30% of the nation’s land as a way of limiting beef production.
By the next day, the situation had gotten so out of hand that the Secretary of Agriculture had to issue a statement: “There’s no truth to the talk that the Biden Administration wants to take land away from people and discourage consumers from eating beef to help fight climate change.” Vilsack did admit that, “The President wants to protect 30 percent of the nation’s land by 2030 but doesn’t plan to use eminent domain to take possession of that land.”
All of this provided great fodder for those who want to bash Biden and for those who want to propagate the myth that beef production is bad for the environment. Cattle only account for 2% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, according to the EPA. They are efficient grazers and part of the ecosystem.
These facts get lost in the climate change rhetoric. For example, the recipe website Epicurious, which has millions of followers on social media, claims that they’re no longer going to have beef recipes “for environmental reasons.” The blogger Farm Babe did a review of the site and reported, “When you read their statements, articles and sponsors on this, you quickly realize that the vegan food companies and animal rights activists have managed to spread misinformation to sway their decision.” She went on to say, “I read every statement and article they released and was astounded at the amount of nonsense.”
What is truly disturbing is that the places we can turn to get factual information about our food and our environment are disappearing. Beef and other parts of the ag economy are being deliberately misrepresented by a variety of groups to advance their social and political agendas. The danger is that some of these positions will become policy as a result of politics.
So, as you celebrate Beef Month with a steak or hamburger, think about how you are helping the environment by supporting a species that turns vegetative waste and inedible grasses into delicious protein that nourishes people worldwide.