U.S. farmers and ranchers proudly provide and support the wide range of dietary choices available to consumers. From nutrient-rich meat, dairy and poultry products to plant-based alternatives, all foods have a place in the American diet. This is a statement from the letter sent by the Farm Animal Welfare Coalition (FAWC) to the administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS).
Recent actions by USDA indicate an apparent and increasing bias against animal-sourced foods in USDA's school lunch program development and recommendations. Within the Healthy Meals Resource System, there is a link for vegan and vegetarian recipes that takes the user to the Vegetarian Resource Group. It is not the availability of such recipes per se with which the group is concerned; the same service could have been provided by including generic recipes in a manner similar to those provided for meat, dairy and egg products. However, a direct link by USDA to an organization that erroneously blames livestock production for all types of environmental, food safety and public health issues is troubling and misleading to consumers seeking fact-based resources.
USDA must be vigilant in reviewing the resources it includes on its Web site, particularly since the inclusion of these sources may be inferred as endorsement of the political views of the organization cited.
Another concern expressed by the group is that USDA recently launched a school lunch recipe contest that excludes meat from the recipe categories. A contest like this should enhance all school lunch menu items, along with distributing fact-based information on moderation and balance in dietary choices. There are no "bad foods," only diets that do not meet the criteria for curbing obesity and healthy lifestyles for children and adults.
The American Sheep Industry Association is a member of the FAWC.