Imagine beef cattle veterinarian Dan Goehl’s surprise when his second-grader son came home from school with Meatless Monday information in a school newsletter that had been handed out to students in his mostly rural community.
Goehl, who owns the Canton Veterinary Clinic LLC, Canton, Mo., didn’t waste time in addressing the issue. He went to the principal’s office the next morning as a concerned parent.
“She said she was unaware of it and would be back in touch,” Goehl says. “The school responded back to me relatively quickly and explained how the information had gotten into my son’s folder. I also sent out a message to a list of clients I periodically send relevant information to.”
In addition, Goehl reached out to his veterinary colleagues and cattlemen’s associations for information.“I had super feedback from members of the Academy of Veterinary Consultants as well as the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, NCBA, the Missouri Beef Industry Council and others.”
Goehl says it became a hot-button issue in the area.
“Our community responded admirably,” he says. “In the agriculture segment of the community there was a major outcry. One 15-year veteran of the school board said he received more phone calls in regard to this topic than anything sense he has been involved with.”
The issue was brought up at a school board meeting as an agenda topic.
“The school’s position was they were not intending to implement Meatless Monday, but were passing along information passed to them,” explains Goehl. “They did send home the following week information from the Missouri Beef Industry Council on the health benefits of a properly balanced diet including meat protein.”
But just because parents don’t want it doesn’t mean that it couldn’t someday happen if directed from a higher level. An article in the March 27 Quincy Herald-Whig quoted the school’s Transportation Director Jackie Kennedy, who prepares the monthly newsletter.
Kennedy said the school district cannot implement a Meatless Monday at this time even if it wants to, because it must follow federal guidelines for school breakfasts and lunches. If those guidelines someday call for meatless days, it will be another story, she said in the article.
"If the government tells us we've got to do Meatless Mondays, it's not going to matter how many cattle we've got grazing out across the field," Kennedy said (see the full article here).
In an op-ed piece Goehl wrote, he challenged those in the beef industry to know the facts and promote the production efficiency that the industry displays. “Take time to educate yourself so you can educate others when asked about the beef industry on an airplane or in the feedstore.”
Goehl says it’s important for veterinarians as well to stay on top of these issues when they arise. “We need to be leaders in the community and I believe our producers look to us for guidance on how to handle these issues,” he says.
“My business existence revolves around the beef industry so for self-preservation it only makes sense to take a stand on issues that I believe in that affect that industry.”
For more information on beef nutrition, click here.