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Biden’s climate plan won’t limit meat consumptionBiden’s climate plan won’t limit meat consumption

Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack clears up misconceptions about President Biden limiting beef intake.

Jacqui Fatka

April 26, 2021

President Joe Biden does not have any plans to limit meat consumption as part of his broader climate plan, according to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. While speaking before the North American Agricultural Journalists annual meeting on Monday morning, Vilsack quickly downplayed the rumors.

“There is no effort designed to limit people’s intake of beef coming out of President Biden’s White House and USDA,” Vilsack says.  

Over the weekend, Republican members of Congress and news outlets began to say that Biden’s climate plan included cutting 90% of red meat from diets by 2030.

Vilsack says the information is not based on any desire, effort, press release or policy paper that would support the notion that the Biden administration would require people to eat less meat or that USDA has some program designed to reduce meat consumption.

“Sometimes folks in the political world, games get played and issues are injected into the conversation knowing full well that there isn’t factual basis for the issue,” Vilsack says, noting this is what has happened with this topic.

Vilsack, who previously served as governor for Iowa, did note there are some individual states where government leaders are calling for the reduction of meat consumption, but not at the national level. Although he didn’t directly call out Colorado, shockwaves were created earlier this spring with Colorado Gov. Jared Polis' proclamation of March 20 as "MeatOut Day" urging Colorado residents to abstain from eating meat for what he asserts would benefit human and planetary health. 

Livestock supporters celebrated “Meat in Day” to counteract the day, and other states such as Nebraska and Iowa supported beef producers by proclaiming April as beef month.

The ag secretary also says there are some in the medical field suggesting a proper balance of meat consumption. And other efforts internationally are underway to limit meat consumption due to the suggested impacts on climate. But Vilsack assured that any of those efforts are not going on “at this point in time at the Biden Administration and not certainly at USDA.”

No land grab

In additional concerns generated from the countryside on the Biden climate plan, Vilsack also says this administration will not use eminent domain to obtain farmers’ land to reach its climate goals. Biden’s goal to protect 30% of the nation’s lands by 2030 has caused concern.

“This discussion surrounding 30x30 is real off base,” Vilsack says. “There is no intent to take land away from farmers.”

Vilsack continues, “The goal here is to create new opportunities for farmers to benefit by embracing climate smart agricultural practices. We’re looking for creative ways to not only use existing tools but use the tools we have at USDA to incent, compensate, to pay farmers for taking steps we know will impact and effect our ability to reduce our risk of climate change.”

About the Author(s)

Jacqui Fatka

Policy editor, Farm Futures

Jacqui Fatka grew up on a diversified livestock and grain farm in southwest Iowa and graduated from Iowa State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications, with a minor in agriculture education, in 2003. She’s been writing for agricultural audiences ever since. In college, she interned with Wallaces Farmer and cultivated her love of ag policy during an internship with the Iowa Pork Producers Association, working in Sen. Chuck Grassley’s Capitol Hill press office. In 2003, she started full time for Farm Progress companies’ state and regional publications as the e-content editor, and became Farm Futures’ policy editor in 2004. A few years later, she began covering grain and biofuels markets for the weekly newspaper Feedstuffs. As the current policy editor for Farm Progress, she covers the ongoing developments in ag policy, trade, regulations and court rulings. Fatka also serves as the interim executive secretary-treasurer for the North American Agricultural Journalists. She lives on a small acreage in central Ohio with her husband and three children.

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