While it’s been devastating to watch the unfolding impact that COVID-19 has had on our nation, an unexpected and not unpleasant side effect has been the quieting of the endless banter about climate change and plant-based diets.
Because it’s become quite clear, during a pandemic, consumers don’t want to buy into virtue signaling. And they certainly don’t want faux products. Nope. They want the real deal, and that’s why we are seeing such a strong demand for meat, dairy and eggs at the grocery store.
How ironic it is that it took a global panic for the fake demand for fake burgers to be truly revealed.
And while the cattle and climate change link appears to have died down for now, I’m quite certain these fear-mongering, control-grabbing activists won’t be quiet for much longer.
Because let’s face it — the bread and butter of many of these lobbying machines is to prey on people’s emotions and earn donations with the promise of saving dogs and cats. Meanwhile, these well-intentioned donors are duped, and the organizations go back to their real mission of abolishing animal agriculture, eliminating meat, dairy and eggs from the dinner table and force-feeding plant-based diets for all.
During this crisis, I’ve watched as activist groups have quietly introduced legislations that would further deteriorate our freedom to farm and to own property, specifically livestock.
For example, some activist groups have pushed to end animal testing as researchers scramble to find treatment and vaccination plans for COVID-19.
Meanwhile, another activist group is working to ban horse carriage businesses during this time of crisis.
Now these organizations are looking at you, my friends and fellow livestock producers. They know that they can legislate and litigate you out of business, but their newest trick is to try and take money straight out of your wallet.
Last week, USDA Secretary of Ag Sonny Perdue announced that the Trump Administration would be rolling out a $19 billion farm aid package to help struggling food producers during the COVID-19 crisis.
“During this time of national crisis, President Trump and USDA are standing with our farmers, ranchers, and all citizens to make sure they are taken care of,” said Perdue in a press release. “The American food supply chain had to adapt, and it remains safe, secure, and strong, and we all know that starts with America’s farmers and ranchers. This program will not only provide immediate relief for our farmers and ranchers, but it will also allow for the purchase and distribution of our agricultural abundance to help our fellow Americans in need.”
The program includes two major elements to achieve their goals of protecting food producers and ensuring our nation’s food security.
The first part of the plan will include direct support payments to farmer and ranchers.
According to the USDA, “The program will provide $16 billion in direct support based on actual losses for agricultural producers where prices and market supply chains have been impacted and will assist producers with additional adjustment and marketing costs resulting from lost demand and short-term oversupply for the 2020 marketing year caused by COVID-19.”
The second part of the program is USDA purchases and distribution of major commodities.
USDA explains on its website, “USDA will partner with regional and local distributors, whose workforce has been significantly impacted by the closure of many restaurants, hotels, and other food service entities, to purchase $3 billion in fresh produce, dairy, and meat. We will begin with the procurement of an estimated $100 million per month in fresh fruits and vegetables, $100 million per month in a variety of dairy products, and $100 million per month in meat products. The distributors and wholesalers will then provide a pre-approved box of fresh produce, dairy, and meat products to food banks, community and faith-based organizations, and other non-profits serving Americans in need.”
Naturally, these activists have their eyes on this assistance program.
In a letter submitted to U.S. Senators Mitch McConnell, Chuck Schumer and U.S. Representatives Nancy Pelosi and Kevin McCarthy, more than 50 organizations, including groups like HSUS, Mercy for Animals and Farm Sanctuary, made their case for determining who should receive payments and who should not. And guess what? If you own a feedlot or raise meat, you're not on the list.
Specifically, the letter calls on Congress to, “Prohibit industrial animal agriculture operations and corporate parents from receiving any COVID-19 bailout funding. Financial assistance should be directed instead toward independent and small and mid-size farmers producing fruits, vegetables, and other climate-compatible plant-based foods.”
Additionally, the letter calls for the Dietary Guidelines for Americans to be overhauled to include sustainability factors.
Per the letter, USDA should, “invest in public health, food security and small farmers by increasing the accessibility of plant-based foods and addressing food waste. Bailout funds could bolster production and availability of vegetables, fruits, legumes, and grains by incentivizing an increase in plant-based options in school meals and government, hospital, and prison procurement programs. Farmers who sell in farmers’ markets could also receive dedicated funds to ensure continued operations. Congress should also direct the USDA to include sustainability in the national dietary guidelines currently being revised, which shape food choices made by millions of Americans each day and guide more than $80 billion in federal spending every year.”
Don’t fall asleep during this pandemic, folks. The activists aren’t shutting down during this crisis, and neither should we. We must continue to fight for our freedoms to farm, to own livestock and to have access to safe, affordable meat, dairy and eggs for all. And we must pushback against regulations, oversight and clear biases that infringe on those liberties.
The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Farm Progress.