Livestock Industry Practices that Impact Sustainable Diets in the United States



Published Jun 28, 2021
Donald Rose Carina Vance Miguel Angel Lopez


Corporate attempts to shape government policies so they are favorable to the firm is a widespread occurrence in the tobacco, alcohol, and food industries. Analysis of such corporate political activity has identified various strategies, practices, and mechanisms used by these industries. In this paper, we adapt an established framework to demonstrate the practices of the livestock industry in influencing sustainable diet policies in the U.S. We describe four case studies in which: (1) environmental sustainability was excluded from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans; (2) meat-friendly dietary recommendations were developed with no consideration of environmental impacts; (3) a professional nutrition society position paper was critiqued for recommending a reduction in ruminant animal consumption; and (4) a webinar was disseminated to nutrition professionals recommending beef as a part of a sustainable diet. In the first two cases the livestock industry rejected the importance of environmental considerations for dietary recommendations and in the second two it argued that livestock is an integral part of a sustainable diet, coopting the definition of sustainable diets. An information and messaging strategy was key to all of these cases. This included stressing the economic importance of the livestock industry, framing the debate, and shaping the evidence base on diet and the environment. The livestock industry also used financial incentives and policy substitution to accomplish their goals. Understanding and documenting such behaviors is a key first step in developing an approach to limit corporate influence on sustainable diet policies.

How to Cite

Rose, D., Vance, C. and Lopez, M. A. (2021) “Livestock Industry Practices that Impact Sustainable Diets in the United States”, The International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food. Paris, France, 27(1). doi: 10.48416/ijsaf.v27i1.87.
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