Posts Tagged ‘government’

(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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(1/23/09 – UK Guardian) Germany’s environment agency has recommended to German citizens that they should lower meat consumption, if they want to lower their carbon footprint and stop global warming.

Speaking at Berlin’s Grüne Woche (Green Week), Andreas Troge, president of the UBA (Germany’s environment agency) said:

“We must rethink our high meat consumption.  I recommend people return to the Sunday roast and to an orientation of their eating habits around those of Mediterranean countries.”

Troge explained that agriculture was responsible for 15% of Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions and that meat production was the most energy-intensive form of farming.  I have to admit it is surprising to hear, considering that Germany is a world leader in terms of meat consumption (39% of Germany’s total calorie intake derives from meat and meat products, compared with 25% in Italy).  It’ll be interesting to see how citizens react.

Edmund Geisen, agricultural adviser to the liberal Free Democrats, was not pleased with Troge’s message.

“Andreas Troge should stop trying to damage the nation’s appetite by discrediting agricultural production,” he said, calling his attack on meat “populist and one-dimensional”. “Our enlightened consumers should decide for themselves what they want to eat.”

Enlightened consumers deciding for themselves? It is an argument we hear often.  But how many consumers are aware that the price of meat does not reflect it’s environmental costs?  I bet not many.  Troge’s message will help consumers make more educated and enlightened decisions about their carbon footprint, rather than dwell in ignorance.

Go Troge!

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February 4th 2009 – The EU has taken a lead role in calling for attention to emissions caused by global livestock.  The 27-nation Parliament said the livestock industry is responsible for “substantial” emissions, and said that “changes in behavior by consumers” should be accompany goals to cap industrial greenhouse gasses.

However, they stopped short of including the actual text that called for a cut in worldwide meat consumption.

Bloomberg News

It’s great to hear that the EU has recognized livestock as a serious greenhouse gas emitter.  But when will the EU actually take action to reverse the continued rise in global meat consumption?  When will we see significant reductions in subsidies to animal agriculture to more seriously discourage high meat consumption?

Food for Change has a great blog entry on the EU’s omission, including a comparison of the actual text of the proposed amendment and the final text.

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