BILLINGS — A message shared by Miss Montana USA on Instagram this week stating that animal agriculture is destructive to the planet, is not sitting well with some Montanans.
The Montana Stockgrowers Association responded quickly with a message of the importance that ranchers take care of the land.
The online posts show it has turned into a discussion between a vegan and the beef industry.
Miss Montana USA Merrissa Underwood says she wants to be respectful and the stockgrowers are looking it as an opportunity for education.
Underwood shared a meme with the statement, "Animal Agriculture is the most destructive industry facing our planet today."
The meme shows statistics on climate change, water use, deforestation, species extinction, fisheries and waste.
The Stockgrowers responded with a post, "an open letter to Merissa Underwood, Miss U-S-A.."
The letter states the Stockgrowers appreciate her passion, but want to correct what the organization calls misleading and inaccurate information.
The letter states that more than 96 percent of farms and ranches across the U.S. are family owned and operated.
View this post on Instagram
Ms. Underwood, We recently saw your Instagram Stories on your thoughts on climate change and animal agriculture. As @missmtusa we think it’s vital to use your platform to represent Montana and the things that are important to our beloved state. Agriculture and the cattle industry are some of those things. Montana’s #1 industry is agriculture and we are proud to raise some of the best, most sustainable beef in the world. Ranchers care deeply for the animals they raise and the environment they raise them in. There’s a saying between ranchers, “If you take care of the land, the land will take care of you.” This is our passion. While we appreciate your passion, we are disappointed in the misleading and inaccurate information you shared and wanted to share some facts about the beef industry that might help educate you and others. Swipe through these images to see the rest of our response⏩ Please like and share this message so we can continue to educate others! **EDIT: In our post we stated 91% of farmers and ranches are family owned and operated, the actual number is 96%!**
The Montana Ag Network had a chance to talk with the Montana Stockgrowers.
"We really think it's important to share your story and share with the public what you're doing on your Ranch and what makes it so great,” said Keni Reese, MSGA Director of Communications. And what makes it sustainable. Those messages are always better than negative messages bashing other people. Educate stay positive and stay factual."
After an invitation from the Stockgrowers, Underwood stated that she would like to have conversation about ag and would be willing to tour a ranch.
"One thing I want to make quite clear is that I'm not talking about small scale family farms,” Underwood said in an Instagram audio post. “I am talking about large, mass corporations. I love all the facts and everything that people are showing me. I hope people are open and receptive to what I have to say."
On social media, Miss Montana USA shared she wants to have an open conversation about agriculture and would be willing to tour a ranch.
MTN News has reached out to Underwood for a statement.