- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 3, 2019

When Rep. Rob Bishop wanted to signal his opposition to the Green New Deal, he did it by sinking his teeth into a juicy cheeseburger from the Good Stuff Eatery.

“If this goes through, this will be outlawed. I could no longer eat this type of thing,” said the Utah Republican between bites at last week’s Western Caucus press conference. “So before they take it away from me, before it’s illegal and an endangered species — I’m actually going to enjoy this a whole lot more than I would the Green New Deal.”

Three weeks after it was introduced, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s signature climate-change resolution has become embroiled in a debate over whether Americans should continue to have it their way when it comes to the all-American burger.

Foes of the Green New Deal are loving it. At CPAC, former Trump White House aide Sebastian Gorka charred the anti-beef initiative, saying, “They want to rebuild your home, they want to take away your hamburgers. This is what Stalin dreamt about but never achieved.”

Rep. Paul Gosar, Arizona Republican, said at the press conference that the sweeping resolution would expand government control, given that “nobody’s going to volunteer to give up their burgers or their milkshakes … People are going to need to be coerced.”

Commentators on the left have tried to lower the temperature, blasting the branding as a right-wing whopper.

“Conservatives are Bizarrely Claiming AOC Wants to Take Your Burger Away,” said Vice in a Thursday post, calling the claim “total nonsense.”

Declared Pacific Standard in a headline: “Democrats Are Not Trying to Take Away Your Hamburgers,” although the article added that, “For many environmental and nutrition advocates, the sustainability of agriculture is a core issue. And, right now, hamburgers aren’t that sustainable.”

If anyone is to blame for the burger narrative catching fire, however, it may be Ms. Ocasio-Cortez herself. In a Feb. 21 interview on Showtime’s “Desus & Mero,” she aired her beef with Big Mac-loving Americans as she promoted the Green New Deal.

“In the deal, what we talk about is, and it’s true, is that we need to take a look at factory farming, period,” she said. “It’s wild. It’s not to say you get rid of agriculture, it’s not to say we’re going to force everybody to go vegan or anything crazy like that, but it’s to say, listen, we’ve got to address factory farming, maybe we shouldn’t be eating a hamburger for breakfast, lunch and dinner.”

During the Feb. 7 roll-out, her team released a FAQ document that said the resolution set a goal of net-zero U.S. emissions in 10 years, instead of zero emissions, “because we aren’t sure we’ll be able to get rid of farting cows and airplanes that fast.”

Her office later said that document was a draft and should not have been included with the non-binding resolution, but by then the New York Democrat was already in a pickle.

Last week, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez was roasted by conservatives after social-media strategist Caleb Hull posted a photo of her at a restaurant with her chief of staff, who was enjoying a hamburger.

She responded with a tweet about “a dude who was creepily (and obviously) taking a picture of me while pretending he wasn’t,” prompting Mr. Hull to respond that “this picture was only taken and sent to me because AOC told the country to eat less hamburgers and her COS is here eating a hamburger.”

The photo also drew the ire of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which said that the congresswoman should “take a fresh look at the evidence and make sure that meat, dairy, and eggs are wiped from her dinner plate and out of the Green New Deal’s policies.”

“It may be an inconvenient truth to some, but when animal agriculture is a bigger contributor to climate change than all the world’s transportation systems combined, climate justice advocates have a duty to go vegan,” PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman told The Washington Examiner’s Paul Bedard.

A 2013 report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization found that global livestock producers account for 14.5 percent of human-caused greenhouse-gas emissions, and that cattle raised for beef and milk are responsible for 65 percent of that figure.

American ranchers argue that they have a better record, thanks to increased efficiency. Only 2 percent of U.S. carbon emissions are caused by the cattle industry, according to Colin Woodall, senior vice president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

He said that the U.S. industry produces the same amount of beef as in 1977 with 33 percent fewer cattle.

In a Feb. 8 open letter, Kansas rancher Brandi Buzzard Frobose said cows are “superheroes,” able to take agricultural residue such as sugar beet pulps and carrot tops “and turn those into beef. This reduces the overall amount of food waste in our great nation.”

Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez, I appreciate your dedication to improving our earth and pursuing sustainable futures but I beseech you to please have a conversation with your constituents and colleagues that have an agriculture background,” said Ms. Frobose. “Cows are not the problem.”

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