We saw USDA's "Greening Headquarters Update" earlier today and reported on comments about how the update included extremely unfavorable comments towards the U.S. meat and dairy industries. I was so upset when I read it, my initial report was full of misspellings, grammatical errors and typos (sorry about that!). I still haven't fixed all the errors in my writing... and won't -- it shows how mad I was when I wrote it!
And while USDA has removed the report from its website, I'm leaving it up. I even removed the Membership access on it and opened it up for anybody to read. I'm telling you... it wasn't very fun stuff to read on a USDA website! Here's a link to my initial report.
After we put out the word, USDA responded with an e-mail note from USDA Press Secretary Courtney Rowe from the USDA Office of Communications. The first part of the note refers to a "rumor" that USDA is encouraging "Meatless Mondays."
But the note also included a statement "From a USDA Spokesperson" which says the comments were on the USDA website and were "posted without proper clearance and it has been removed."
I have no idea what to think about all of this. My first thought is to ask Secretary Vilsack to get in the game with the right group of deputies or supervisors to make sure this kind of thing doesn't happen again.
My second thought on this is it was initially cleared by Sec. Vilsack or a deputy, but after USDA "received a number of inquiries" (as the note from Rowe said) about the comments, the decision was made to pull the "update."
It seems strange to say this, but I hope my first thought is right and it's just a case of Vilsack and his deputies not doing a good job of monitoring what is put on official USDA websites. My second thought is just too disturbing.
Either way, it's another pretty darn good example of how this USDA administration functions.