Merck: An Attack on Beef is an Attack on the West
Colorado Governor Polis recently declared March 20th “MeatOut Day,” encouraging Coloradans to eat a meatless diet. As Westerners, we cannot sit idly by as the governor perpetuates falsehoods about animal agriculture and undermines an industry that employs more than 170,000 of his constituents and generates billions of dollars for his state’s economy. We need to fight back.
While the governor’s proclamation is detrimental to all meat-producing industries, it has a particularly chilling effect on the cattle industry due to the long-perpetuated falsities surrounding beef production. As “Attorneys for the West” who are carrying on multi-generational legacies of cattle ranching, this fight is personal for us at Budd-Falen Law Offices.
The battle against beef is much larger than just beef – it is a battle against the entire cattle industry and, ultimately, rural America. Despite the false narrative that has created unnecessary and misplaced guilt in consumers’ minds, cattle ranchers feed American families, strengthen our local and national economies, and conserve natural resources. As all farmers and ranchers know, living on and caring for the land instills a unique sense of responsibility to ensure that it can be passed down to future generations. Farmers and ranchers are the original stewards of our environment, preserving it and pioneering sustainability long before those ideas infiltrated the consciousness of modern America. Feeding our communities and sustaining our land is a thankless job, and one that many people outside of rural communities do not even try to understand. Countless nights spent warming newborn calves, missed meals, and hours of labor are just a few things that allow each of us to feed our families a simple hamburger. But despite all the challenges, our farmers and ranchers continue to feed us, sustain our economies, and preserve our land for future generations.
While “cow fart” narratives and myths have dominated mainstream media, emissions from the cattle industry only account for 3.7% of the total greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Cattle thrive on land that is unfit for cultivated agriculture and generate 19% more protein than they eat through their unique digestive system. Approximately 90% of what cattle eat is inedible for humans, yet cattle convert this forage into healthy protein and an abundance of vitamins for our world’s increasing population. Cattle are an effective land management tool, and beef is a highly sustainable food source. The cattle industry is the heart and soul of small towns throughout our country, many of which could not survive without it.
Additionally, there are hundreds of uses for cattle by-products, many of which the average American utilizes in their everyday life. I, for one, enjoy the soap in my shower, the tires on my truck, and the insulation that keeps my house warm during our cold Wyoming winters. Plus, nothing satisfies my sweet tooth quite like a cold glass of chocolate milk. Without the cattle industry, these things we take for granted each day would cease to exist. We cannot allow misinformation and long-perpetuated falsehoods to destroy one of our nation’s most important industries.
In order to combat misinformation and combat the “MeatOut” movement, the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association is coordinating with restaurants, grocery stores, and other businesses to feature meat products on March 20th. Organizations throughout the country are coordinating similar efforts and encourage supporters of the agricultural industry to meet at local restaurants and order their favorite meat dishes. We encourage you to do your part to keep meat on the table – for breakfast, lunch, and dinner – during March. After all, it is National Agriculture Month.
Personally, I’m looking forward to sitting down to a nice, medium-rare steak with a baked potato and all the fixings on March 20th. I did move to Wyoming from Idaho, after all.
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Outtagrass Cattle Co. cartoon by Jan Swan Wood for the July 24, 2021, edition of Tri-State Livestock News