Nebraska governor bribes people to eat more meat with 'beef passport' and prizes

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Pete Ricketts is very worried that people might eat quinoa instead of cow.

Nebraska's governor is so worried that people might eat vegetable proteins that he is endorsing a special "passport" for enthusiastic beef eaters.

Republican Pete Ricketts announced Wednesday that, in partnership with the Nebraska Beef Council, his state was launching a "Nebraska Beef Passport." By buying beef at 41 cow-serving restaurants in the state, red-meat lovers can accumulate stamps and enter raffles for prizes, including grilling tools, coolers — and more beef.

"Nebraska has long been known as the Beef State," Ricketts boasted. “Our cattle industry grows Nebraska by generating over $10 billion in cash receipts each year. The new Beef Passport program gives Nebraskans the opportunity to support our ranchers by dining on delicious cuts of Nebraska beef."

Ricketts framed the initiative as part of an effort to protect Nebraska's economy from "radical environmentalists" who want people to eat synthetic meats and plant-based alternatives. "Abolishing the beef industry would have a devastating impact on Nebraska," Ricketts warned. "Who wants to eat three glasses of quinoa anyway?"

In recent weeks, GOP lawmakers have been fighting back against an imaginary war on beef. Two GOP senators filed a bill in April that would prohibit federal agencies from forcing patrons of their cafeterias to observe "meatless Mondays" — something that no agency has ever attempted to do. They say their bill, the Telling Agencies to Stop Tweaking What Employees Eat (TASTEE) Act of 2021, is a reaction "against the Left's 'War on Meat' and 'Meatless Mondays.'"

More recently, Republicans furiously denounced a nonexistent plan by President Joe Biden to get rid of hamburgers to combat climate change. "Joe Biden's climate plan includes cutting 90% of red meat from our diets by 2030," Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert falsely claimed. "They want to limit us to about four pounds a year. Why doesn't Joe stay out of my kitchen?"

Nebraska's economy also relies on vegetable production. According to the Department of Agriculture, it is among the top producers in the country of soybeans, a protein frequently used as a vegetarian alternative to meat. The state Department of Agriculture identifies them as "Nebraska's second largest harvested crop."

But Ricketts' loyalty to beef could have something to do with his campaign donors.

According to data from the National Institute on Money in Politics, he received at least $25,000 in contributions from James Timmerman, vice president for administration and chief financial officer for Nebraska Beef, Ltd.

He received $25,000 from Beef Products, $27,000 from Tyson Foods, and $26,000 from Smithfield Foods.

Ricketts also received at least $22,587 in contributions from the Nebraska Cattlemen Association, the trade association for the state's beef producers.

That group's president, William H. Rhea III, praised Ricketts on Wednesday for his work to support meat-eating, saying, "On behalf of Nebraska Cattlemen members, we thank Governor Ricketts for once again declaring May as 'Beef Month' and hope everyone celebrates with beef today—and every day."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.