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March 30th, 2012

What Ever Happened to Free Market Conservatives?

Welcome to Iowa – The Pink Slime State

Governor Terry Branstad and other leaders from beef producing states are coming to the defense of finely textured beef, better known as pink slime.  On Thursday, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, Texas Governor Rick Perry, and lieutenant governors from Nebraska and South Dakota joined Branstad in touring Beef Products Incorporated (BPI), a maker of the controversial beef product.

The outrage over the use of adding the “pink slime” to ground beef began with Jamie Oliver, a well-known TV personality who has launched a campaign against processed foods being used in school lunches.  Oliver’s show on pink slime sent shockwaves around the county.  The widely used product was pulled from many supermarkets and fast food chains.

On Monday, BPI shut down operations at three of its plants, including one in Waterloo.  The temporary shut downs have caused more than 650 people to be temporarily laid off.  The National Meat Association has stated that as many as 3,000 American jobs will be affected when suppliers are also factored in.

BPI and leaders from beef producing states are now pushing back.  A Branstad press release from earlier this week read, “Lean finely textured beef is a 100% beef, 95% lean, nutritious, safe, quality and affordable beef product eaten by Americans for 20 years. The production and food safety technologies employed to make lean finely textured beef are USDA-approved, and it is produced in USDA-inspected meat processing facilities.”

Already the actions from Branstad and other leaders are making an impact.  Last week, Iowa-based Hy-Vee Grocery stores said that they would no longer carry products that contained the product because of public outcry.  This week, they have reversed course and will now offer the product, but will label products that contain it.

I understand the need for Branstad and other Midwest leaders to stand up and support agricultural products that are produced in their states, but is it necessary to step in and personally vouch for and stand behind one particular product?  Last time I checked, most Republicans believed in something called the free market.  If people don’t want their kids eating products that contain finely textured beef, that’s their prerogative.

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like the pro-pink slime crowd is going beyond just saying the product is safe.  Governor Branstad is encouraging schools to continue to use the product.  His actions might have also convinced the folks at Hy-Vee to reconsider pulling the product.   I understand why Branstad and others feel like this is a smear campaign, but at the end of the day, it’s the consumer who dictates to the market not the other way around.

I find it a little odd that on one hand, we dictate to schools what products can be placed in vending machines on school grounds due to health concerns, but on the other hand, school and government officials are outraged when parents don’t want their kids eating products that contain pink slime.

Below is the Jamie Oliver video from last April that created the outrage over pink slime.  It’s a stretch to call it a smear campaign.  In fact, I think he did a good job explaining the process.   The real problem is that people thought ground beef was just that, ground beef.  Not animal fat, connective tissue, and other parts of the animal.


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About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a political news and commentary site he launched in March of 2009. Robinson’s political analysis is respected across party lines, which has allowed him to build a good rapport with journalist across the country. Robinson has also been featured on Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Press, ABC’s This Week, and other local television and radio programs. Campaign’s & Elections Magazine recognized Robinson as one of the top influencers of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses. A 2013 Politico article sited Robinson and as the “premier example” of Republican operatives across the country starting up their own political news sites. His website has been repeatedly praised as the best political blog in Iowa by the Washington Post, and in January of 2015, Politico included him on the list of local reporters that matter in the early presidential states. Robinson got his first taste of Iowa politics in 1999 while serving as Steve Forbes’ southeast Iowa field coordinator where he was responsible for organizing 27 Iowa counties. In 2007, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa where he was responsible for organizing the 2007 Iowa Straw Poll and the 2008 First-in-the-Nation Iowa Caucuses. Following the caucuses, he created his own political news and commentary site, Robinson is also the President of Global Intermediate, a national mail and political communications firm with offices in West Des Moines, Iowa, and Washington, D.C. Robinson utilizes his fundraising and communications background to service Global’s growing client roster with digital and print marketing. Robinson is a native of Goose Lake, Iowa, and a 1999 graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, where he earned degrees in history and political science. Robinson lives in Ankeny, Iowa, with his wife, Amanda, and son, Luke. He is an active member of the Lutheran Church of Hope.

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