The comment period for the Environmental Protection Agency’s exploration of greenhouse gas regulation ended last Friday, with farmers lobbying furiously against the notion of a “cow tax” on methane, a potent greenhouse gas emitted by livestock.
The New York Farm Bureau issued a statement last week saying it feared that a tax could reach $175 per cow, $87.50 per head of beef cattle and upward of $20 for each hog.
Such a tax would represent a “massive hit on our industry here in New York,” said Peter Gregg, a spokesman for the farm bureau, in an interview.
“You could take all of our cows together and they probably wouldn’t have the same effect on the atmosphere than the average traffic jam on the Tappan Zee Bridge,” he added.
Farm officials from Texas to Alabama also sounded the alarm, and Mr. Gregg said that the response in New York among farmers was “almost a panic.”
The hysteria may be premature, however. The E.P.A. indeed issued an “advanced notice of proposed rulemaking” this summer that called for public comments on the idea of regulating greenhouse gas emissions from cars, as well as “stationary sources” — which, yes, would include cows and other livestock.
The proposal is far from being enacted, however. In fact, cattlemen’s organizations say no formal proposal to regulate greenhouse gases in this way exists. It’s for that reason that the various cattlemen’s organizations have criticized the American Farm Bureau Federation’s sensationalizing of the issue, which the groups say, isn’t an issue at all at this point.