It ain’t easy being the honorable secretary of agriculture these days.
First, Sec. Tom Vilsack says he’s praying for rain to end the worst drought in sixty years, and the secular humanists get all bent out of shape.
Now he’s a big old climate change denier. From Think Progress:
In multiple press appearances last week, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack dodged questions about what drought-stricken farmers need to know about climate change. Speaking before the White House press corps, Vilsack refused to answer questions by Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times and Bill Plante of CBS News about the connections between climate change and the current drought.
Although the USDA has a Climate Change Program Office, Vilsack refused to talk about the science because, he said, “I’m not a scientist“:
STOLBERG: Could you talk a little bit about the drought itself? Is it very unusual? Did anyone see it coming? Is it from climate change? Is there anything you can do to prepare?
VILSACK: I’m not a scientist so I’m not going to opine as to the cause of this. All we know is that right now there are a lot of farmers and ranchers who are struggling. And it’s important and necessary for them to know, rather than trying to focus on what’s causing this, what can we do to help them. And what we can do to help them is lower interest rates, expand access to grazing and haying opportunities, lower the penalties associated with that, and encourage Congress to help and work with us to provide additional assistance. And that’s where our focus is.
TP contends this and other dodges make Vilsack “Romney-like,” because, in the past, he has connected those drought-climate change dots quite nicely.
Of course, it also could be that he’s trying desperately to get a Farm Bill through the House of Representatives, where there there are a few folks who think the real climate debate centers on whether angels are actually bowling when it thunders. What’s the proper lobbying strategy? Figure out what Think Progress would want you to do, then do the opposite. There’s reality. And then there’s Congress.
It could also be that he honestly is focused on immediate relief efforts, and not the broader causation. And connecting the dots remains complicated at this hour.
But surely, Mr. Secretary, these members of Congress can be convinced. What would give anyone the idea that they might react irrationally to an agricultural issue?
U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack called the leader of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association to assure livestock producers the federal agency will not be promoting something called “Meatless Mondays.” Colin Woodall of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association says the episode started Wednesday.
The U.S.D.A. newsletter suggested employees could avoid eating meat on Mondays as “one simple way to reduce your environmental impact while dining at our cafeterias.”
“Thankfully, the secretary stepped up, provided a lot of leadership and shut down that at entire proposal,” Woodall says, “so we’re very thankful that this ended up in a good light.”
But that “shut down” didn’t happened before the proposal stirred up a tempest on Twitter. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley tweeted: “Shame on U.S.D.A.” and he vowed to eat more meat on Mondays to “compensate for stupid U.S.D.A. recommendations.” Steve King — the Republican congressman who is being challenged in November by Christie Vilsack, the wife of U.S. Ag Secretary — called “Meatless Mondays” in the U.S.D.A. cafeterias “Heresy!” King also vowed that he would eat a “double rib-eye” on Mondays.
…And if anyone tries to institute “Casual Friday,” I will wear a double-breasted tuxedo! Just watch me.
Meatless Monday is also a UN plot:
“One simple way to reduce your environmental impact while dining at our cafeterias is to participate in the “Meatless Monday” initiative,” the USDA newsletter said. “This international effort, as the name implies, encourages people not to eat meat on Mondays.
“How will going meatless one day of the week help the environment? The production of meat, especially beef (and dairy as well), has a large environmental impact. According to the U.N., animal agriculture is a major source of greenhouse gases and climate change. It also wastes resources.”
The update went on to cite the “many health concerns” associated with “excessive consumption” of meat. It noted that many people are just not ready to go all-vegetarian, and said forgoing meat one day a week “is a small change that could produce big results.”
Members of congress and livestock boosters say the USDA should be more focused on the immediate needs of farmers and ranchers dealing with the drought. And Vilsack’s probably thinking, “Sheesh, didn’t you guys read that post at Think Progress?”
“Also, please note the addition of TGILFTBF to your cafeteria calendars. Thank Goodness it’s Lean Finely Textured Beef Friday!”
But really, what makes all this a big farce is that these untouchable, unmentionable radioactive topics in the Washington sensory deprivation bubble are very mentionable among the rabble.
The University of Texas, for example, periodically polls people nationwide on climate change:
In a poll taken July 12-16, 70 percent of respondents said they think the climate is changing, compared with 65 percent in a similar poll in March. Those saying it’s not taking place fell to 15 percent from 22 percent, according to data set to be released this week by the UT Energy Poll.
So there are those who look to the secretary of agriculture to provide evidence of climate change. And then there are those who notice massive droughts, endless heat and huge wildfires and think hmmmmm…
National Public Radio also polled 3,000 Americans on their meat consumption habits:
The majority of those polled (56 percent) said they eat red meat (defined as all meat products except poultry and fish) one to four times per week, and nearly the same number (55 percent) say their meat intake hasn’t changed in the past three years. But 39 percent said they eat less meat than they did three years ago.
Among those who are eating less meat, 66 percent said they’re worried about the health effects; 47 percent said cost is a factor, while 30 percent were concerned about animal welfare, and 29 percent have limited their meat intake out of a concern for the environment.
So, basically, legions of Americans are actually making personal decisions on what they eat based on multiple important factors, none of which include “My congressman eats huge steaks on Monday” or “What are they serving in the USDA cafeteria?”
I know that I’m overweight and that I eat too much meat. Cutting back probably would be smart. And by writing that, I am now a sworn enemy of the American farmer.
But hey, I did grill ribeyes Tuesday night. Single ribeyes, though, because, deep down, I’m just a vegan.
So, to review, it’s a left and a left and a right to the Punching Bag. But look on the bright side, Sec. Vilsack. At least you can get a great title out of all this flogging for your memoirs.
“Heat, Don’t Pray, Love Meat.”