Protecting Beef Protects State

 In

You are what you eat.

That is, if you even know what you’re eating. Do I have that right?

As a lifelong rancher in north central Nebraska, I wholeheartedly believe consumers deserve to know what is in the food they’re consuming. I’d like to respond to a recent op-ed in the Lincoln Journal Star about just that.

Cindy Lange-Kubick satirizes the very real issue of consumer deception in a column, “A warning (and a proposed law) to protect us from fake meat” (Jan. 8) In her piece, Ms. Lange-Kubick belittles “laws that protect carnivores from plants” as nothing more than an attempt to protect one industry.

If only it were that simple.

Sen. Deb Fischer’s Real MEAT Act would require alternative protein products to be merely held to the same food safety and labeling standards as beef. Is it truly so repugnant to ask plant-based products to adhere to the same rigorous regulatory process required of beef? And why shouldn’t Americans deserve to know that the alternative protein products they put on their dinner plate are, in fact, imitation products trying to capitalize on beef’s good name and reputation?

Truth in advertising and consumer protection are worthy and responsible public policy goals. Similarly, ensuring deceptive ingredient labeling doesn’t harm Nebraska’s top industry is also important. Nebraska is “The Beef State” for a reason. Just consider livestock production’s $13.8 billion impact on the state’s budget.

According to the Nebraska Department of Agriculture’s 2019 Fact Card, our state is first in the nation for beef and beef product exports, commercial red meat production, commercial cattle slaughter and all cattle on feed.

Additionally, UNL’s Ag Economics Department found that ag accounts for 24% of our state’s workforce, generates 25% of the state’s labor income, accounts for over 40% of the state’s economic output and accounts for 26.9% of Nebraska’s Gross State Product.

UNL economists also estimate that for each $1 direct economic impact from livestock, an additional $0.62 in sales is generated outside the agriculture production complex.

You say you are a Nebraskan that does not eat beef, and that is fine with me. I am not pushing my appetite on you! But the facts are clear, you cannot live in Nebraska and not be affected by the waxing and waning economics of the beef industry.

By the way, on that matter of “Where are the women?” I have no idea what gender has to do with chemically composed food products, but, my dear Ms. Lange-Kubick, you need not worry about women in the Nebraska Cattlemen and the beef industry. We got this!

Senator Fischer is also a Nebraska Cattlemen member, and coincidentally, she identifies as a woman, as do I, along with 70% of the staff of the Nebraska Cattlemen. The women in this organization and the industry are many, extraordinary and very committed to seeing livestock production continue to be the foremost economic engine in this state.

Nebraska Cattlemen proudly supports the Real MEAT Act. Above all other things, it codifies the definition of beef. And that’s important to me. I take great pride in the beef I produce, and I want consumers to know what they are eating is the real thing.

Let the truth set you free.

Written by: Brenda Masek

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