On one side of a beefy debate: celebrity talk show host Ellen Degeneres and New York Mayor Bill De Blasio.
On the other side: South Dakota rancher Amanda Radke and Utah rancher Garrett Conover)
Those were the four individuals portrayed by Brownwood High School’s Ag Issues Forum team, which gave a presentation Friday at the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce’s monthly luncheon at the Brownwood Country Club. Following a script team members wrote themselves, the team debated how the production of beef impacts the health of consumers, the environment and the animals.
The five-member team — mediator Aubrey Kirk, junior Tanner Roberts (De Blasio), senior Trinitee Skelton (Degeneres), sophomore Rylah Morgan (Radke) and junior Hunter Day (Conover) — took first place recently in district competition. The team competes in area competition Nov. 25 in Mineral Wells and hopes to make it to state competition.
The team has honed its presentation before area audiences including Friday’s presentation at the chamber luncheon.
“Our topics is about the Hashtag Eat Less Beef movement, which has been going on in social media,” Kirk, a senior, said Friday before the team gave its presentation.
“Basically what we’re trying to do is give equal presentation of the pros and cons and how social media stars such as Ellen Degeneres is using her platform to tell others, basically, to not eat meat.
“We have cattle producers saying that this notion is wrong and that’s not what we should be doing.”
A few minutes later, Kirk stood with the rest of the team at the front of the room and made the same points. “We have the big stars who are saying we need to eat less meat, and we also have the cattle producers who are saying this notion is wrong,” Kirk said.
“We all know the influence celebrities can have on industries within the United States. Today we will be focusing on the increasing negative rhetoric surrounding the production of food and fiber. One of today’s guests, talk show superstar Ellen Degeneres, recently took to her Instagram account, posting to her 77 million followers; ‘be neat, eat less meat. It’s good for the planet, the animals and for you.’”
Kirk introduced the rest of the team, and laughter erupted when she introduced her teammate, Roberts, as “Mayor Bill De Blasio.”
“If you took he time to do some research on American cattle ranches, I can assure you that your opinion of our lifestyle would change,” Day said during one of his arguments, portraying the rancher Conover.
Skelton, portraying Degeneres, insisted in one of her arguments, “Animals lives matter.”