LANSING, Michigan — This weekend, plan to fire up your grill, paste on the barbecue sauce and savor your favorite, finger-lickin’ meats.
Not only is it the first of spring, it’s Michigan Meat Eaters’ Day. Even if you’re not from Michigan, the contagious aroma of this weekend likely will reach you.
Just days after a proclamation by Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm proclaiming Saturday, March 20 as Michigan Meatout Day, the state’s largest farm groups and meat-eating public had something different to proclaim.
An Internet Facebook page called Michigan Meat Eaters’ Day already has more than 1,200 fans, many still spouting criticism over how their highest elected official could declare a meatless day, and reveling over their backyard burger plans.
Michigan Farm Bureau President Wayne Wood, himself a dairy farmer, said the Governor called him the morning of March 17, to assure him she is a meat eater and meant no harm.
It may have been a kind gesture, but the moods of farmers and farm leaders in this state will not easily be healed.
The Governor’s proclamation linked meat with various diseases, deaths and an unhealthy lifestyle, and clearly promoted the vegan agenda.
“To have your highest level elected official, who has respect … is very, very troubling,” Wood said.
The Governor did appease some by later declaring the same day Michigan Agriculture Day, to promote vegetables, fruits “and” meats produced in her state.
“Our state’s agricultural diversity offers something for everyone,” Granholm said in her second proclamation. “From top-quality meat and vegetables to fine produce like apples, melons and blueberries, Michigan farmers produce wholesome, healthy food we all can enjoy.”
Those all-inclusive words are likely to be better received by the farm industry, because they do not promote any industry over the other.
Wood, in a released statement, said Farm Bureau would not have minded the Governor encouraging society to eat more vegetables. It’s when she singled out meat they became disturbed.
“It’d be one thing if Granholm proclaimed a day to promote increased consumption of vegetables, fruits and whole grains,” he said. “But the Governor clearly crossed the line in recklessly singling out meat products for non-consumption and belittling this wholesome source of protein. …”
The meatout proclamation was sponsored by an organization called Great American Meatout. It encourages people to develop a “nonviolent” diet and “kick the meat habit and explore a wholesome, compassionate diet of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.”
It is supported by In Defense of Animals, Mercy for Animals, People for The Ethical Treatment of Animals, Farm Sanctuary and a host of other animal welfare and animal rights organizations.
Wood said the proclamation was unfortunate, but continued, “I think that this has given us an opportunity to tell agriculture’s story.”
He said farmers can get very insulted when groups suggest they mistreat animals, because in reality, the well-being of the animals determines the farmer’s livelihood.
“It decides whether we have a Christmas or not,” Wood said.
Last year, the Michigan Legislature approved compromise legislation with one of the nation’s biggest animal rights organizations — The Humane Society of The United States, in an effort to appease animal activists and stop attacks on its state’s livestock farmers.
Michigan agreed to make incremental changes to its caging measures, in exchange for an agreement from HSUS, to not push its agenda onto the state ballot, and to leave Michigan farmers alone.
(Reporter Chris Kick can be reached at 330-403-9477, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.)