Wenzel: Meat as villain: We’re not biting

GRAND FORKS -- Imagine telling cowboys of yesterday that red meat is potentially deadly and that the methane gas released from their herd will lead to earthly ruination.As unbelievable as that may have been a century ago, that's where we're at today.

GRAND FORKS -- Imagine telling cowboys of yesterday that red meat is potentially deadly and that the methane gas released from their herd will lead to earthly ruination.
As unbelievable as that may have been a century ago, that’s where we’re at today.
We hear groups loudly proclaiming that eating red meat will shorten our lives. In the long run, maybe so, but since we know these medical outlooks tend to change over time, we are opting to withhold an opinion on it one way or another.
It wasn’t long ago that eggs were voodoo. Now? Not so much.
And now we know that a so-called tax may someday be applied to red meat. The hope behind that effort is that taxing meat will, in turn, reduce consumption, reduce production and therefore reduce the methane gases that cows emit.
In essence, proponents say taxing meat will decrease the greenhouse effect, reduce global warming and reduce healthcare costs worldwide.
Perhaps they’re right. Perhaps not.
We can’t support it.
As noted in a Grand Forks Herald editorial last week, sin taxes aren’t necessarily fair taxes. They prey upon the vices - or habits - of consumers. It’s true that we tax cigarettes because of their adverse effect on the health of smokers and those around them. Same goes for the overuse of alcohol.
But our concern is this: We suspect much of the call for a meat tax comes from animal-rights proponents, and we similarly suspect their call for taxation stems not from worries about the environment, but simply in an effort to foil an industry. That’s no reason to institute a new tax on a noble industry.
And what happens when the world stops eating red meat? Vegetable consumption grows, of course, and so does the land’s thirst for water, as well as need for more fuel to plant, cultivate and harvest these additional crops.
We’re tired of people creating controversy for the farmers and ranchers who toil to feed the world.
Just last year, the giant chocolate company Hershey announced it would no longer use sugar derived from beets, since the sugar beet industry uses genetically modified organisms - even though there is no scientific proof that we should worry about GMO use. That’s bad news for sugar producers in the Red River Valley. Shame on Hershey for taking the bait.
At the same time, there’s talk of a meat tax and efforts to turn the world to vegetarianism.
Let the farmers and ranchers do their work.
Wenzel is the publisher of the Grand Forks Herald and former editor and publisher of the Mitchell (S.D.) Daily Republic, both of which are part of Forum News Service. Email him at kwenzel

Opinion by Korrie Wenzel
Korrie Wenzel has been publisher of the Grand Forks Herald and Prairie Business Magazine since 2014.

He is a member of the Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corp. board of directors and, in the past, has served on boards for Junior Achievement, the South Dakota Historical Society Foundation, United Way, Empire Arts Center, Cornerstones Career Learning Center and Crimestoppers.

As publisher, Wenzel oversees news, advertising and business operations at the Herald, as well as the newspaper's opinion content.

Wenzel can be reached at 701-780-1103, or via Twitter via @korriewenzel.
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