Press release from our friends at Iowa Farmer’s Union, Food Democracy Now and Occupy Ames/ISU:
Family Farmers and Ranchers Hold Rally at Iowa State University to Protest the Collusion Between Industrial Meat Production and our Political System
Pink Slime versus Lean, Finely Textured Beef
Tuesday, March 10, 2012
Kildee Hall, Iowa State University
Ames, Iowa – Tomorrow afternoon family farmers, ranchers and sustainable agriculture advocates will join university students to hold a rally at Iowa State University to call attention to the negative impacts that the deliberate politicization of the recent pink slime controversy has on family farmers and consumer confidence in the safety and integrity of our food supply
The rally will take place in front of Kildee Hall at 1:30 pm, exactly one hour before Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and Congressman Steve King are scheduled to hold an event called, “The Truth” a press conference regarding “Lean Finely Textured Beef” or pink slime, as it has become known. The rally organized by family farmers and organizations was put together in an effort to correct the misleading propaganda being put forward by the meat industry and politicians.
The recent controversy surrounding ground beef has brought to the public’s attention that an estimated 70 percent of ground beef in the U.S. contains an inferior grade beef parts mixture known as pink slime or “lean, finely textured beef”. While the issue has been around for several years, the controversy reached a boiling point when the USDA announced that it planned to order more than 7 million pounds for the National School Lunch Program, which according to federal regulations allows ground beef to contain up to 15 percent of the substance by weight.
The recent controversy has once again laid bare the continued problems that industrial agriculture has in hiding their worst practices from the American public and brought to light the negative consequence that industrial meat production has on family farmers and consumer confidence.
“Transparency, knowledge and choice – that is what consumers need in their spending decisions,” said Chris Petersen, a farmer from Clear Lake, Iowa and president of Iowa Farmers Union. “The facts are now coming in and once again people are questioning our food system blessed by the FDA and USDA and a lot of politicians influenced by processors, industrial agriculture, lobbyists and campaign contributions.”
Petersen’s comment about transparency in food choice and undue political influence is especially important considering the revelation that Eldon and Regina Roth, the owners of Beef Products Inc., the world’s largest producer of pink slime, have contributed more an estimated $800,000 to local, state and federal elected officials, including more than $150,000 to Governor Branstad.
With the recent loss of livestock reforms in Washington DC, known as GIPSA, which were required market protections won under the last 2007 Farm Bill and were gutted last winter under meat industry pressure, farmers and ranchers are outraged over the continued political influence of the meat industry which has driven more than 80,000 beef cattle producers out of business in the past decade with little response from Congress or USDA officials.
“Family farmers and ranchers are being used again by giant agribusiness and their pet policies to gain the public’s support for one of their most unethical practices that actually cuts the demand for beef cattle,” said George Naylor, a farmer near Churdan, Iowa and the past president of the National Family Farm Coalition. “Farmers, ranchers, and the public should not want ‘cheap’ food, but food of good quality that’s affordable,” Naylor continued.
Farmers and ranchers are so outraged over the obvious political attention and deliberate PR spin being waged by the meat industry and the political supporters that cattle producer and independent meat processor Mike Callicrate travelled from as far as Colorado to make sure that America heard the message loud and clear.
“The use of pink slime is a grave betrayal of trust to our beef eating customers. Selling adulterated, otherwise inedible tissue, to uninformed people is wrong. These irresponsible practices by USDA and our short-sighted, greed driven meat industry are ruinous to our reputation, our financial future and America’s food system,” said Callicrate.
“Americans are growing tired of the continued collusion between agribusiness and politicians”, said Dave Murphy of Clear Lake, Iowa, the founder and executive director of Food Democracy Now! a grassroots advocacy organization dedicated to reforming America’s food system. “Real farmers and cattle producers don’t support the use of pink slime in school lunches or our food supply. Not only does it suppress the price farmers receive for their cattle, but it also debases the quality of their product, something they take a lot of pride in producing.”
The farmers and ranchers will be joined by students in the ISU School of Agriculture, activists and members from Food Democracy Now!, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, Occupy Ames and Occupy ISU.
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