I don’t support Meatless Mondays because I want to have a future in the industry that I came to learn more about. I grew up on a small farm in southern Minnesota where my family raised beef cattle and hogs. Animal agriculture has been a main contributor to my family’s income, and it’s the reason I came to the University of Minnesota — to obtain a degree in animal science and continue producing livestock.
Let’s take a look at why we are at the University. In 1867, the University re-opened as a result of the Morrill Land-Grant Act, designating it as a land-grant university. The Morrill Act was designed to establish institutions in each state that would educate people in agriculture, home economics and mechanical arts, among other professions.
Minnesota ranks seventh in the nation in livestock cash receipts, according to 2012 statistics by the state’s Department of Agriculture. Breaking it down by industry, Minnesota ranks first in turkey production, second in hog production and fourth in total meat production among all U.S. states.
The agriculture industry is the second largest employer in Minnesota, with about two-thirds of all agricultural jobs being off-farm and livestock production making up about 36 percent of the industry.
By banning meat in University dining halls even one day a week, we would be reducing meat consumption while also going against why the University was founded and against an industry that’s a huge component of Minnesota’s economy.
Providing better vegan and vegetarian options for those who don’t consume meat — while still maintaining the meat option for those who want it — would be a good compromise.
Using livestock manure to add nutrients to the fields on my farm has reduced our need for other sources of nutrients. We maintain soil integrity by testing the soil composition of our fields every other year, and our facilities are designed to have no runoff. On my farm, we care about our animals and the environment.