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Bipartisan efforts work to ban federal funds for lab-grown meat

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

In yet another attack on the nation’s cattle industry, the Department of Defense (DOD) recently announced up to $500 million available in grant funding for the development of lab-grown meat products manufactured by the company BioMADE.

The announcement caused outcry across the agriculture industry and military personnel alike, and since the DOD’s announcement, bipartisan efforts have been made to ban federal funds to develop lab-grown meat. 

Most recently, Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH), a member of the House Freedom Caucus, joined eight Republican colleagues, including two members of the House Agriculture Committee, in drafting the Real Meat Act of 2024. 

This bill would prohibit funding for research, development, promotion, advertisement or production of cell-cultured meat and outlaw the purchase of alternative proteins, including lab-grown meat, through federal nutrition programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. 

“Fake cell-cultured meat not only poses a health risk to the human body, but it also threatens the livelihoods of America’s hardworking ranchers, livestock farmers and butchers,” says Davidson. “Recently, laws prohibiting lab-grown meat have been passed in states like Florida and Alabama. Congress must act to ensure U.S. taxpayers are not footing the bill for this inferior, experimental product.” 

Grasping at straws

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) has led the charge against DOD’s lab-grown meat sponsorship since the beginning.

During an episode of NCBA’s Beltway Beef podcast, dated June 21, NCBA Senior Director of Governmental Affairs Sigrid Johannes explains the association found out about the situation after BioMADE extended a call for proposals to develop lab-grown meat for military rations.

She notes NCBA members and their allies on Capitol Hill were alarmed by the announcement and confused by the DOD’s efforts, considering there is no shortage of wholesome, nutritious and delicious protein produced every year by farmers and ranchers across the nation.

“In 2023 alone, U.S. cattle producers produced more than 27 billion pounds of beef,” she states. “That is a lot of very nutritious, high-quality and, not to mention, delicious protein we can provide – not just to our military, but to schools, grocery stores, restaurants and millions of consumers around the world. This doesn’t even account for the billions of other proteins we produce in the U.S. as well – chicken, eggs, lamb, pork, etc.”

She continues, “In total, the livestock sector in the U.S. has tremendous productivity and with it, the best environmental footprint in the world, so it is a pretty baffling choice to say it isn’t enough and turn toward lab-grown protein sources.” 

A slap in the face

In addition to believing the DOD is “grasping at straws to find reasons to fund lab-grown meat products,” NCBA also believes the project is disrespectful to the nation’s armed forces.

On June 7, following the DOD’s announcement, NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs Ethan Lane released a statement saying, “It is outrageous the DOD is spending millions of taxpayer dollars to feed our heroes like lab rats. U.S. cattle producers raise the highest-quality beef in the world, with the lowest carbon footprint, and American troops deserve to be served the same wholesome, natural meat – not ultra-processed, lab-grown protein cooked up in a chemical-filled bioreactor. This misguided research project is a giant slap in the face to everyone who has served our country.”

Johannes reiterates the lack of availability of lab-grown meat – because it is expensive, hard to make and ultra processed – ultimately means there is little information on the product. 

“There are a lot of unproven aspects of this product that haven’t been test driven with the American consumer. Yet, somehow DOD thinks it is okay to test it on our men and women in the armed forces who often don’t get to choose what they are going to have for dinner that day,” she states. 

“It is no secret we can’t effectively fight a war or keep a nation safe if we are marching on an empty stomach, so to speak. The food we provide to our armed forces is really critical,” she adds. “It is not just a matter of preference, fads or whims in Washington, D.C. – obviously those things change pretty frequently. But, at the end of the day, nutrition is important and is a key component of our national readiness and the effectiveness of our military.” 

Bipartisan pushback 

Davidson’s Real Meat Act of 2024, introduced at the end of June, is the most recent effort on a long list of other plans to stop federal funding for lab-grown meat. 

In May, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a law prohibiting the misbranding of certain food products, including cell-cultured meat, while Govs. Ron DeSantis and Kay Ivey signed legislation to prohibit lab-grown meat in Florida and Alabama, respetively. 

Johannes notes NCBA has pushed back with a two-pronged approach.

“Our first plan of attack was through the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which recently moved through the House and is still in the process in the Senate, but we have folks who led efforts on both sides to amend the NDAA and prevent money going to DOD to be used for lab-grown meat projects,” she explains. 

NCBA’s second approach is focused on an amendment to the Defense Appropriations Act a bipartisan effort led by U.S. Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE), a cattle industry ally and military Veteran. 

“I strongly encourage anybody who has members of Congress on any appropriations committees in the House and Senate to call up their delegation and make it known how much they oppose this funding and to voice their support for Bacon’s amendment,” Johannes concludes. 

Individuals can also voice their support for the Real Meat Act of 2024 to their state delegations. 

Hannah Bugas is the managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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