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Posts Tagged ‘subsidies’

A coalition is petitioning the Environmental Protection Agency to list emissions from CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations aka Factory Farms) under the Clean Air Act such that steps can be taken to begin regulating CAFOs.

The organizations include:  Humane Society of the United States, Association of Irritated Residents, Center on Race Poverty and the Environment, Clean Air Task Force, Dairy Education Alliance, El Comité para el Bienestar de Earlimart, Environmental Integrity Project, Friends of the Earth and Waterkeeper Alliance.

The 69-page petition provides detailed scientific and legal information about the significant emissions of methane and nitrous oxide—two greenhouse gases—as well as hydrogen sulfide and ammonia from factory farms, and how all of these pollutants have been shown to have negative effects on human health and welfare, including adverse effects on climate and the environment in the United States.

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Quotes:

“Unregulated air pollution from massive factory farms has a devastating impact on human health and the environment,” says Jonathan Lovvorn, vice president and chief counsel for Animal Protection Litigation and Research at The HSUS. “The EPA should hold these big agribusiness corporations accountable for the enormous harm they are inflicting on local communities, independent family farmers, and the environment.”

Our lungs and the future of our planet are not animal factory subsidies,” said Tom Fratz, president of the Association of Irritated Residents and a resident of the San Joaquin Valley, an air basin in California with more than 2.6 million dairy cows. “President Obama promised us during the election that he would protect rural residents from this pollution and we expect EPA to keep that promise.”

Hog lots and other factory farms aren’t just stinky, they’re also destabilizing our climate,” said Kate McMahon of Friends of the Earth. “The EPA has a legal obligation to protect the public by cracking down on this economic and public health threat – a threat that has yet to be addressed by climate legislation pending in Congress.”

The people who live in the communities devastated by unregulated air pollution from animal factories deserve protection” said Charlie Tebbutt of the Western Environmental Law Center and co-chair of the Dairy Education Alliance. “Implementing this petition will get animal factories into the Clean Air Act process and give communities better opportunities to protect themselves.”

Through global warming and deposition, the toxic emissions from industrial animal operations have profoundly impacted our water resources” said Hannah Connor of Waterkeeper Alliance. “By actively regulating the emissions from this industry, EPA will be taking a positive step towards protecting and enhancing not only the quality of our Nation’s air resources, but also the quality of our Nation’s water resources, and the public health and welfare of our communities.”

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With the intense focus on man-made emissions triggering global climate chaos, surely the leaders of the world would prioritize developing policies that limit livestock production (beef, pork, chicken), the #2 cause of global warming? (2006 FAO, Energy Production is #1)

It turns out, politicians don’t like to touch this subject, especially in the United States.  A 2007 Farm Bill amendment that would have cut subsidies for meat and dairy industries was rejected by House Democrats, because House Leader Nancy Pelosi feared Democratic representatives would risk losing their seats in the 2008 elections.

As for the European Union, which many say is “leading the way” for climate change reform,  politicians are almost just as hesitant.  The EU recently issued a warning about the impact of livestock on the environment while omitting text calling for a worldwide reduction in meat consumption.  However, no direct action was taken that might help to reduce meat consumption or the number of livestock.

Governments are taking no steps to influence the individual’s decision to eat less meat.  Wait.  Let me take that back.  The government IS influencing you.  It is subsidizing meat to allow it to be very cheap and very affordable, at the cost of our environment and health, with our taxpayer money.

But who’s complaining?  How much of the public cares?

Where is the rallying cry from progressives, global warming activists or environmentalists? Where…is Al Gore?  Hollywood?

Many leaders have helped to put global warming in the spotlight and to “go green”.  And for that we owe our gratitude.  But many of these same “leaders” have failed to act and speak on the environmental impact of livestock.  It is no wonder politicians don’t care to make this an issue.

We have exempted agriculture from the climate protection strategy in order to limit the number of potential sources of conflict,” says a senior member of the staff of Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel, a member of the Social Democrat Party (SPD).

So why aren’t politicians including livestock in climate policy?  Why does a salad cost more than a Big Mac?

Because there is a need for new leaders and catalysts for change. People need to see and hear, how and why, hundreds millions have already made the choice to adopt a low-meat or no-meat diet.

Over the next five years, US farms will receive 288 billion in federal subsidies.  The graph below displays the percentage of subsidies addressed to the different groups of the food pyramid.

pyramid1source: PCRM

Ending or at least significantly reducing subsidies for meat and dairy industries, will force them to bear their own resource and environmental costs, and to cope with less funds to market their goods to the public, or to lobby politicians.

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