Dietary Guidelines

(Kristina) Kristina Butts here with the National Cattleman’s Beef Association, based in Washington, D.C., and really excited to be in Kansas this week visiting with a lot of producers. So every five years two agencies come together and create an advisory committee to look at the latest nutrition and health science that’s available to see if we need to change what is known as the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These two agencies include the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services. And NCBA began our involvement in the Dietary Guidelines process for the 2015 update back in 2012. So, we’ve been very involved in the beginning of this entire conversation. The advisory committee met for about 18 months in a variety of public and private meetings. And throughout that public process we were able to engage. We’ve been concerned about some of the final decisions made out of the advisory committee. March a year ago, the advisory committee started bringing topics that in our opinion are not related to nutrition and health from a scientific perspective, into the conversation. And that was about sustainability. Now sustainability is a topic as an industry that we have a great story to share and we want to talk about it. But when you start to try to look at it in the realm of nutrition and health and childhood obesity, trying to make that connection from an industry standpoint is really something that we had a challenge with. We shared that with USDA. We shared that with the Department of Health and Human Services as well to say your advisory committee is really going beyond their scope. If you want to have a conversation about sustainability, let’s do it. But when you look at the statute so that Congress is asking the agencies to do every five years, it’s not to bring in topics outside of nutrition and health, it’s to focus on the science that we have at hand. So, we have submitted comments and CVA has, the Kansas Livestock Association has as well, and many individual ranchers, as well as those involved in nutrition and health from a public sector standpoint and private sector standpoint into this process. Where we stand right now is that the secretaries are reviewing the advisory committee’s report which became public back in September. And again, this report is just a recommendation, so the secretaries have a lot of leeway here to work with their team internally to evaluate the science and see what they’re going to take from this advisory committee’s report to base the 2015 Dietary Guidelines on. We expect the final Dietary Guidelines to come forward the end of December or early in January 2016. And the reason why NCBA is so engaged in this process and we have been literally for years, since the first version of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans in 1985, is because they really are the foundation for our country’s nutrition policies. So, when you start thinking about nutrition policy on school lunch and breakfast programs, military feeding programs, senior feeding programs, they all point back to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. So, we want to ensure they are scientifically sound, they are strong. Another issue that NCBA raised occurred at the 7th and final meeting in December a year ago. And that was the advisory committee’s decision to take lean meat out of what they consider a healthy dietary pattern for Americans. The challenge here is when you look at the actual science of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines that included lean meat as part of a well-balanced diet and actually said eat more nutrient dense foods and that lean meat is considered as a nutrient dense food. That science has not changed between the 2010 advisory committee’s report, the final 2010 Dietary Guidelines and what the 2015 advisory committee put together. So in essence their qualitative messages are not supported by the science within the advisory committee’s own report. So, we’re working to ensure all the science is put forward to the public process on the comments that NCBA and many others submitted to the docket. When I say many others, to give you a comparison, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines had roughly 1,250 sets of comments where the public and the communities engaged in that conversation. For the 2015 Dietary Guidelines there were more than 29,000 sets of comments. So, a lot more engagements from a variety of groups. Some are the activist groups, some of the groups that work more for a plant-based diet, some are those of us in the industry really trying to ensure that the latest science is really the core and the foundation of the final 2015 Dietary Guidelines. So, for those of you watching that did engage in the process from a grassroots standpoint, we want to say thank you. We’re still involved in this process. Congress has taken a notion as well from an oversight perspective. NCBA fully supports their role in overseeing the agencies efforts, both USDA and HHS for the duration of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines process. So, stay tuned because we’ll probably have more of an update the end of this year, early next year when those final recommendations do come forward from USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services.

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