Recent Op-Eds

Where’s the Meat?

February 20, 2015

Many of us recall the popular 1980s ad campaign by the fast food chain Wendy’s with its slogan, “Where’s the beef?” The ad poked fun at many fast food establishments for the sometimes small size of the hamburger patty compared with buns. Wendy’s gained attention for their clever ad that touched on the frustrations of many patrons who wanted more for their money. While the campaign is now a famous slogan in the advertising world, a slight modification of the slogan could highlight concerns about the new Obama administration report on 2015 dietary guidelines for Americans—“Where’s the meat?”

Every five years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services review the dietary guidelines for American food consumption. A recent advisory committee report recommends to the agencies what should be included in the new dietary guidelines. The nearly 600-page report leaves lean red meat out of what it considers to be a healthy diet, which is not only a great concern to dietitians who support consumption of lean red meat but is also concerning for the South Dakota livestock industry.

This isn’t the first time the Obama administration has promoted limiting meat consumption. As you may recall, in 2012, USDA sent an in-house newsletter encouraging employees to participate in “Meatless Mondays” while dining in USDA cafeterias. The newsletter went on to attack the production of meat in the U.S., saying that meat production has “a large environmental impact,” and that an employee should “help yourself and the environment” by not eating meat.

It is hard to believe that the very agency tasked with promoting agriculture would encourage people not to eat meat. From the short-lived Meatless Mondays, to misguided dietary guidelines, farmers and ranchers deserve more of an ally in USDA, rather than an adversary. Misleading dietary guidelines would not only confuse consumers but would also harm South Dakota’s livestock industry.

I urge the Obama administration to reconsider the recommendations in the report. As a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, which oversees USDA, I will continue to closely monitor the guidelines as they move forward. As Kimberley and I continue to do our best to maintain a healthy diet, we’ll be supporting the products of farmers and ranchers across the state, including lean red meat, and I encourage South Dakotans to join me.