Mar 18, 2010

Senate Republicans try to score cheap political points with ‘meatout’ resolution

LANSING – With the State of Michigan facing a budget deficit and vital services for people who are hurting through no fault of their own being cut, Senate Republicans managed to take time out of a Senate session on Wednesday to pass a meaningless resolution with no teeth to protest a promulgation that has no teeth and carries no weight.

A proclamation issued by Governor Jennifer Granholm calling Saturday a "meatout" day in the state and encouraging people not to eat meat that day as part of a healthy diet drew protests from agriculture and hunting advocates that was way out of proportion. This is no different than those the Governor has issued supporting Michigan wine and egg farmers.

This is a national effort, and according to their website, “ Meatout is an international observance helping individuals evolve to a wholesome, compassionate diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains. The purpose is to expose the public to the joys and benefits of a plant-based diet, while promoting the availability and selection alternatives to meat and dairy in mainstream grocery stores, restaurants, and catering operations.”

Wednesday was also Agriculture Day in the Capitol where the Michigan Farm Bureau and farmers display home-grown fruits and vegetables in the Capitol and lobby their Representatives. Apparently, Senate Republicans think fruits, vegetables and grains are not grown in Michigan. The fact is it’s hard to know where your meat came from, but that’s not the case for fruits, vegetables and grains.

But Senate Republicans took the opportunity to score some cheap political points in an election year. During the Senate session, every Senator is allowed to make a short speech on any subject they choose, and it’s usually at the end of session. On Wednesday it was moved to the middle of the session, and three straight Republican Senators got up and railed at the Governor’s promulgation. Not much different was said between the three, but it’s their right to make a fool of themselves.

That led Sen. Liz Brater, D-Ann Arbor to interject some sanity following the three rants.

“So, basically, what that proclamation does is not, I don’t think, try to harm any meat producers, but it encourages farmers who are producers of vegetables, fruits, and grains, of which there are many, many in this state promoting good health and reducing the risks of heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and other chronic diseases which take the lives of approximately 1.3 million Americans each day,” she said.

Brater also pointed out that the same proclamation has been offered by governors in many other states, including the cattle producing state of Texas and Alaska when Sarah Palin was the Governor. Then Brater actually read the promulgation:

“Whereas, March signifies a national celebration of the importance of agriculture in the United States as it provides almost everything we eat, use, and wear on a daily basis; and to recognize and celebrate the abundance provided by Michigan’s farmers and the agriculture sector; and

Whereas, Michigan’s farmers provide consumers with not only food and fiber, but also biofuels and other sources of renewable energy, which are essential to life; and
Whereas, Michigan’s food and agriculture industry, our state’s second-largest economic driver, contributes over $71.3 billion to our state’s economy each year; and
Whereas, Michigan’s agricultural industry provides a variety of wholesome and healthy products including but not limited to beef, dairy, field crops, fruits, horticulture products, pork, poultry, sheep, and vegetables; and
Whereas, Michigan’s agricultural economy expanded at a great rate of more than five times faster than the rate of the general economy; and
Whereas, I urge all Michiganians to join me in recognizing the importance of our agricultural industry, from farm to fork, and to help celebrate this day with meals made with a variety of local Michigan ingredients, including but not limited to meat, vegetables, and dairy products; and
Whereas, The first day of spring has been traditionally designated National Agriculture Day since 1973;
Now, Therefore, be it Resolved, That I, Jennifer M. Granholm, governor of the state of Michigan, do hereby proclaim March 20, 2010, Michigan Agriculture Day, and encourage people throughout the state of Michigan to partake in the abundance of Michigan’s agricultural commodities.”

That led to another ridiculous comment by Sen. Alan Sanborn, R-Richmond.
“Let’s just all go over to the Governor’s mansion and have tofu and seaweed,” he said. “Great Americans eat red meat. Great Michiganders eat meat grown in Michigan.”

And great Michiganders also eat fruits, vegetables and grains that we know are grown in Michigan.

The timing for statements was unusual, until Sen. Wayne Kuipers , R-Holland, introduced Senate Resolution 129. that would “urge the Governor to rescind her proclamation making March 20, 2010, Michigan Meatout Day.”

That resolution passed by a vote of 25-12. Sen. Gilda Jacobs, D-Hunntington Woods, summed up the debate over the resolution best.

“I wish we would spend this much time on finding funding for education,” she said.

Newspapers jumped all over the harmless promulgation, and some of the reaction was just ridiculous. The Livingston County Daily Press & Argus had a front page story.

In the story, Don Miller, butcher at Great Lakes Butcher Supply in Oceola Township, said one day will hurt his business. “Encouraging Michiganders not to eat meat — even if just for one day — constitutes a boycott,” the paper said.

But Judy Daubenmier, head of the Livingston County Democratic Party and a Catholic, had the best response when she said Catholics do not eat meat on Fridays.

“Aren’t they losing business on Friday? What’s the difference,” Daubenmier said.
“Don’t we grow fruits and vegetables in Michigan as well?”

One butcher even had the audacity to say eating meat was healthy. He said “implications that meat is unhealthy are irresponsible, “To imply that meat is unhealthful is uneducated, kind of reckless.”

Then maybe your doctor is full of crap when he tells you to cut down on red meat, and you should go to your butcher instead of a doctor for a check-up. The fact is taking an occasional break from eating meat is healthy.

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