NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


December 8, 2008

For farmers, this stinks: Belching and gaseous cows and hogs could start costing them money if a federal proposal to charge fees for air-polluting animals becomes law, says the Associated Press (AP).

Farmers so far are turning their noses up at the notion, which is one of several put forward by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that greenhouse gases amount to air pollution. Livestock emit methane, a key greenhouse gas tied to global warming:

  • The proposal would require farms or ranches with more than 25 dairy cows, 50 beef cattle or 200 hogs to pay an annual fee of about $175 for each dairy cow, $87.50 per head of beef cattle and $20 for each hog.
  • The executive vice president of the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation, Ken Hamilton, estimated the fee would cost owners of a modest-sized cattle ranch $30,000 to $40,000 a year; he said he has talked to a number of livestock owners about the proposals, and all have said if the fees were carried out, it would bankrupt them.

EPA spokesman Nick Butterfield said the fee was proposed for farms with livestock operations that emit more than 100 tons of carbon emissions in a year and fall under federal Clean Air Act provisions.

"It's something that really has a very big potential adverse impact for the livestock industry," said Rick Krause, the senior director of congressional relations for the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Source: Associated Press, "Tax cows, hogs for passing gas, burping?  EPA proposes doing so due to methane's impact as a greenhouse gas,", December 5, 2008.

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