Farm state senators defend meat on government menus

TASTEE Act prohibits government from mandating Meatless Mondays or limiting meat for government employees.

Jacqui Fatka, Policy editor

April 16, 2021

2 Min Read
USDA photo by Alice Welch

Iowa Republican Sen. Joni Ernst is pushing back against what she called the Left’s “War on Meat” and “Meatless Mondays” with new legislation. The TASTEE Act – or the Telling Agencies to Stop Tweaking What Employees Eat Act of 2021 – would prohibit federal agencies from establishing policies that ban serving meat for employees.

Growing up on a rural family farm in southwest Iowa, Ernst recalls the work was tough—and not always pretty. “My family took extraordinary pride in what we did and the hogs and crops we raised, as do so many Iowa families, farmers and ranchers.”

Ernst says when she hears calls from everyone ranging from out-of-touch politicians to Hollywood elites encouraging people to ban meat and the quality agriculture products produced in her home state of Iowa, it makes her “sizzle.”

Related: Iowa and Nebraska show support for beef producers

“Our federal agencies shouldn’t be encouraging people to ban agricultural products at the expense of America’s hardworking farmers and producers. Congress needs to make its intention known that we should get ‘Meatless Mondays’ and other types of activist bans against agricultural products out of our government dining halls,” says Ernst.

In 2012, the Obama-Biden USDA infamously sent out an agency newsletter that would serve as a catalyst for instituting the “Meatless Monday” initiative at USDA. Ernst’s TASTEE Act, which she is introducing with Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., would prohibit federal agencies from banning meat and other agriculture products in government dining halls.

“The last thing Americans need is big government stepping in and telling them what they are allowed to eat,” says Marshall, who is also a doctor. “The Biden Administration should not have the right to make radical political statements at the expense of federal employees’ dietary options and America’s hardworking farmers and producers. I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing this important legislation that prevents Meatless Mondays and other types of discrimination against agricultural products from taking place in government dining halls.”

Related: Nation’s eyes on Colorado meat fight

Earlier this year, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed a proclamation declaring April as Meat on the Table Month in support of Iowa farmers, ranchers and livestock producers. Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts also declared the month Beef Month in support of the cattle industry in the state.

Livestock supporters celebrated “Meat in Day” to counteract Colorado Gov. Jared Polis' proclamation of March 20 as  "MeatOut Day" urging residents to abstain from eating meat for what he asserts would benefit human and planetary health.

Related: Colorado ag unites to celebrate livestock industry

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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