Like so many Iowans, I was born and raised on a rural family farm, where we made our living raising livestock and crops. The work was tough – and not always pretty – but my family took extraordinary pride in the work we did and the hogs and crops we raised, as do so many Iowa families, farmers, and ranchers.
Our farms help raise an estimated 23 million hogs, 4 million cattle, and nearly 1 million beef cows, according to a 2019 Agricultural Economic Contribution Study. In total, our pork, beef, lamb, poultry, and fish production generate almost $29 billion in crop and livestock sales, with 30% of Iowans employed by agriculture or agriculture-related industries, says the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) 2017 Census of Agriculture. Farming and ranching is not only critical to our jobs, our economy, our culture, and our way of life here in Iowa – it’s in our DNA.
So, when I hear calls from the liberal Left—everyone from out-of-touch politicians to Hollywood elites—encouraging people to ban meat and the quality agriculture products we produce here in Iowa, it makes me sizzle. First, under the Obama-Biden Administration, it was “Meatless Mondays.” Then, it was Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-N.Y.) Green New Deal—which seeks to drastically reduce the consumption of meat. Now, it’s the Biden Administration, who campaigned on continuing the Left’s “War on Meat” at the expense of Iowa’s and America’s hardworking farmers and producers.
Monday’s are tough enough. We don’t need Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and President Biden making them meatless, too!
That’s why, this week, I introduced the TASTEE Act – or the Telling Agencies to Stop Tweaking What Employees Eat Act of 2021. This bill is simple and straightforward: it would prohibit federal agencies from establishing policies that ban serving any agricultural product, like meat, for employees.
Liberal activists have a First Amendment right to say or preach what they’d like, but our federal agencies shouldn’t be encouraging people to ban agricultural products at the expense of America’s hardworking farmers and producers. It’s important for Congress 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. My bill will do just that.
Our Governor Kim Reynolds declared April “Meat-on-the-Table Month” to support our state’s agriculture community. So, during April, be sure to grab yourself a burger, a pork chop, or some good old bacon and do your part to support Iowa’s hardworking farmers and ranchers. In Congress, I’ll keep pushing to make sure our ag community knows that I’ve got their backs.
Joni Ernst, a native of Red Oak and a combat veteran, represents Iowa in the United States Senate.