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Posts Tagged ‘cattle’

(2/6/09 – NY Times) Earlier this year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in its Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR), stated that it might tax cows in an effort to curb methane and other greenhouse gasesIt has since backed down from any greenhouse gas regulation on the livestock industry.

Under the proposal, if a state charged the “presumptive minimum rate” from the EPA, the cow tax would be $175 per dairy cow, $87.50 per head for beef cattle and a little more than $20 per pig,” said American Farm Bureau Federation Director of Regulatory Relations Rick Krause.

This could have limited the number of cows which farms have, raised the price on meat and dairy products, or put weaker farms out of business.

Perhaps this wasn’t the perfect proposal, but I would’ve liked to see something, anything done to limit the impact of greenhouse gases from livestock.  While it doesn’t make me glad to see farms struggling or put out of business, it’s like seeing a hummer dealership fail.   Businesses or farms will need to adapt.

If the government wants people to believe that global warming is as serious of an issue as scientists are telling us, no sector of the economy should be immune to reform and regulation.

Here are some interesting comments from the Times blog post:

Sigh…the ranchers don’t have to do anything?

At least we should make them fund the research into better feed to reduce the methane. I have still yet to hear if grass fed beef emits less methane.

Mark,  Dallas

It is such a joke. The cattle industry is so subsidized, and they complain about a little tax. A low quality slab of steak would cost about $100 if the government didn’t subsidize the industry. But of course, healthier foods like vegetables recieve very little subsidy (yea, corn does, and too much, but most other vegetables do not).

— 0megapart!cle

Most serious people that are informed about climate change would acknowledge that cows in our agriculture chain do account for a disproportionate amount of emissions. But before we go for a tax, maybe we should just rein in the vast subsidies that the industry now enjoys in the form of grain subsidies, land usage subsidies, etc. This would also of course greatly benefit public health and the accompanying public health expenditures if people ate more spinach and less subsidized beef.

— akb
Well, something must be done. Perhaps a meat tax rather than a cow tax would be better. NYTimes yesterday noted that carbon emissions were down due to decreased consumer spending, in turn due to economic downturn.
— Rr Salamander

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The #1 human cause of deforestation in Latin America?  Surprise…it’s the cattle industry.

Daniel Beltra)

A burnt area of the Amazon rainforest in Itaituba 2, a protected area (Photo: Daniel Beltra)

Why are rainforests important?  First of all, rainforests help to slow global warming by significantly absorbing  CO2 in our atmosphere.  So as a result of deforestation, there is an increase in CO2 emissions.

The rate of deforestation has increased significantly in the past few decades.   Deforestation is now the #2 human cause of CO2, behind fossil fuels.

As for a cause of deforestation?  For the Amazon rainforest, it’s meat:

“Cattle ranching is now the biggest cause of deforestation in the Amazon, and nearly 80 per cent of deforested areas in Brazil are now used for pasture.  The cattle industry has ballooned since the 1970s, giving Brazil the largest commercial cattle herd in the world. Since 2003, the country has also topped the world’s beef export charts and the government plans to double its share of the market by 2018.” – “How Cattle Ranches are Chewing up the Amazon Rainorest” Greenpeace (1/31/09)

Greenpeace is currently developing their campaign to pressure the Brazilian government to stop deforestation in the Amazon.

Rainforests help us in many other priceless ways.

Here are some very interesting facts about rainforests:

  • We lose about 50,000 plant, animal and insect species a year due to deforestation.
  • While 25% of Western pharmeceuticals are derived from rainforest ingredients, less than 1% of tropical plant species have been tested.
  • The Amazon is described as the “Lungs of our Planet” because it provides more than 20 percent of the world’s oxygen, by continuously recycling carbon dioxide.
  • Of the 3,000 plants that the U.S National cancer Institute has ID-ed as active against cancer cells, 70% are found in the rainforest.
  • Experts agree that there is more economic value in leaving the rainforests intact than cutting it down for timber or the cattle industry.

The rainforests, as you have read, provide immense value to humanity.  But in a matter of decades, much of that value has been forever lost due to the cattle industry and the rising global appetite for meat.

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