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From Eggs to Christmas Trees, USDA Promotional Programs Sometimes Generate Controversy

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The slogans are familiar: “The Incredible Edible Egg,” ”Pork: The Other White Meat,” and “Got Milk?”

They’ve all been part of promotional campaigns overseen by the Agriculture Department and paid for by the industries that vote to organize them. While the idea is simple — an industry-wide promotional campaign at no cost to the government — they’ve often generated controversy, been misunderstood and at times have operated with little oversight.

The egg industry is the latest to draw scrutiny for its promotional board after it appears to have waged a campaign to hurt sales of an eggless imitation mayonnaise. According to email documents provided to The Associated Press, the American Egg Board tried to prevent Whole Foods grocery stores from selling Hampton Creek’s Just Mayo spread and engaged in other efforts to counter the brand.

According to the documents, American Egg Board CEO Joanne Ivy emailed a consultant in 2013 saying she would accept his offer “to make that phone call to keep Just Mayo off Whole Foods shelves.” The effort was apparently unsuccessful as Whole Foods still sells the product.

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