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The Biden administration’s U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has plenty to worry about – which is what makes their campaign pitting transgender policies against food security even more baffling.
Early last month, the USDA announced it will expand its definition of sex discrimination to include sexual orientation and gender identity. This means that now, anyone who helps distribute food aid must deploy divisive transgender policies (like allowing men into girls’ bathrooms) or they risk losing federal aid.
No agency is more responsible for ensuring the food security for American families than the USDA. In fact, one in four Americans are directly touched by the food aid provided by the agency. They help mothers feed their babies, schools feed their children, and communities feed their vulnerable. Under the Biden Administration, all of that is under threat.
It’s nothing short of food security blackmail. It’s appalling that the Biden administration would put the nutrition of our children at risk. Our schools should not have to choose between continuing the School Lunch Program and protecting their girls from being exposed to biological boys in their bathrooms or as competition in girls’ sports. It’s egregious that an agency whose sole purpose is to ensure our vulnerable populations are fed is intentionally undermining that very mission.
Pallets of baby formula are transfered to a truck after arriving on an Air Force C-17 at the Indianapolis International Airport in Indianapolis, Sunday, May 22, 2022. The 132 pallets of Nestlé Health Science Alfamino Infant and Alfamino Junior formula arrived from Ramstein Air Base in Germany. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy) (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Why is the USDA, of all agencies, jumping into highly divisive policymaking? What does transgender policy have to do with a school, a food bank, a farmers’ market, or a grocery store’s ability to feed needy individuals? Has anyone heard of a single child denied food at their school because they’re transgender? A school’s funding for food aid should not be contingent on promoting a political agenda.
It’s time for the USDA to get refocused on the issues that matter most to Americans. Our mothers and parents are struggling to find baby formula. The average national out-of-stock rate for infant formula hit 74% for the week ending on May 28. That same week, one-in-five states saw 90% of baby formula shelf space empty.
Our farmers and ranchers are feeling the squeeze of supply chain shortages as fertilizer becomes increasingly scarce and more expensive. And a global wheat shortage is looming. It’s created a threat to the world’s food supply chain. Other food shortages may follow.
On top of it all, record high inflation has flooded into our grocery stores, causing the average American family to pay over 10% more for groceries than just a year ago.
We are supposed to be the country that feeds the world. Under the Biden administration, families are now struggling to afford to feed their children.
It’s not just the USDA that needs to re-evaluate its priorities. It’s likely this is only the beginning of the Biden administration’s expansion of Title IX – the statute that defines sexual discrimination. The president may soon try to force every federal agency to take this same approach. If they do, any group or organization receiving federal aid will face the same threat.
The Biden Administration needs to reverse course immediately. There are far more pressing challenges they should focus on – like addressing runaway inflation, bringing down sky-high gas prices, solving the ongoing baby formula shortage, or securing our broken southern border. Mr. President, take your pick.
Gov. Pete Ricketts is serving his second term as Nebraska’s 40th governor.