Archive for Monday, February 9, 2009

Farmers may wind up paying for gas produced by their cows

Farmers call this kind of gas tax ‘unthinkable’

Melvin and Joyce Williams, of MJ Ranch in rural Douglas County, are opposed to a “cow tax,” a fee that could apply to farms with livestock operations that emit more than 100 tons of carbon emissions in a year. Cattle produce methane, a potent greenhouse gas that can contribute to global warming, the Environmental Protection Agency says.

Melvin and Joyce Williams, of MJ Ranch in rural Douglas County, are opposed to a “cow tax,” a fee that could apply to farms with livestock operations that emit more than 100 tons of carbon emissions in a year. Cattle produce methane, a potent greenhouse gas that can contribute to global warming, the Environmental Protection Agency says.

February 9, 2009


A penalty for polluting animals?

Cattle could end up costing their own ranchers money. Enlarge video

It’s a stinky notion for farmers.

Belching and gaseous cows and hogs could end up costing them money if the federal government decides to charge fees for animals that pollute the air.

The suggestion has some Douglas County farmers turning up their noses.

“It’s ridiculous,” said Joyce Williams, of MJ Ranch, 3105 Wild Horse Road. “That would eliminate agriculture in our country almost, if all animals were taxed. We can’t do that; it’s just almost unthinkable.”

The cow tax is a possible consequence of an Environmental Protection Agency report following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2008 that greenhouse gases from motor vehicles amount to air pollution, the American Farm Bureau Federation said.

According to the agricultural organization, the provisions of the EPA’s Clean Air Act report would require farms and ranches to pay an annual fee of about $175 for every dairy cow, $87.50 for every head of beef cattle and $20 for every hog.

“That’s quite hefty,” said Debbie Yarnell, of Homespun Hill Farm, 137 East 1400 Road in Baldwin City. “It would sure make me think twice about getting out of the business.”

The fee would apply to farms with livestock operations that emit more than 100 tons of carbon emissions in a year, which, based on federal agriculture department figures, would include those with more than 25 dairy cows, 50 beef cattle or 200 hogs, the AFBF said.

While cows can convert otherwise unusable plant materials into fiber and food, their digestive system also produces methane, a potent greenhouse gas that can contribute to global warming, the EPA said.

“That’s just a process of nature,” said Melvin Williams from his pasture northeast of Lawrence.

His wife, Joyce, said there’s no way to objectively measure cow flatulence.

“I bet if you walk over there behind our cows you’ll see some poop, but you’re not going to hear a lot of gas,” Joyce Williams said with a laugh.

The EPA briefly mentions “raising livestock” in its report on ways to regulate greenhouse gases. But EPA officials insist the lengthy, highly technical report, which mostly focuses on other sources of air pollution, does not include a proposal to tax livestock.

In a statement to the Journal-World, Catherine Milbourn, senior press officer for the federal organization, said the EPA doesn’t have a time frame for taking action.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Shane Garrett 6 years ago

Did not South Park do a entire show based on human farts and global warming? I thought it was funny. Plug up those cows! I think the pigs would start to float. Then pigs would be flying! haaaahhhahahahahahahahaha!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years ago

I don't think it's necessary to tax methane from livestock. Factory farming of livestock is only possible with huge inputs of fossil fuels in machinery and chemical inputs. Tax those fuels, and those externalized costs will no longer be externalized, thus ending the distortion of the market.

devobrun 6 years ago

This issue isn't a science issue, or a political issue. It is a moral issue! do the majority of people in the world want a keeper?Why do most people embrace guilt?What is wrong with our social structure that emphasizes a need to believe other people when they clearly stand to reap the harvest of your labors?Listen up folks, none of you stand to benefit from the prescriptions proposed to a problem fabricated from a computer model.It is a computer model. You know, like those computer models for the credit market that predicted financial markets so well last year. Like the computer models that have missed solar activity for the past 14 months. Like the computer models that screw up over and over again predicting cancer from wine, no wait, wine is good. No wait, its soy beans, no wait, its processed wheat.Ah, shoot, we don't really know do we? We really don't know nearly as much as "experts" let on. Its a game to get funding. You lay people who believe Al Gore and Jim Hansen are dupes. Well, go ahead feel guilty suckers. Leave me alone.

fadamaudave 6 years ago

obama and his flatulating idiots can kiss my bovines' arse's

Charles L Bloss Jr 6 years ago

Governmental insanity at it's best! Thank you, Lynn

webmocker 6 years ago

Talk about hot air.This article is based on propaganda from the American Farm Bureau Federation in which they say such a tax is a possible consequence of a particular report:"The cow tax is a possible consequence of an Environmental Protection Agency report following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2008 that greenhouse gases from motor vehicles amount to air pollution, the American Farm Bureau Federation said."And the EPA says there is no such plan:"But, EPA officials insist the lengthy, highly technical report, which mostly focuses on other sources of air pollution, does not include a proposal to tax livestock."

lawrence_citizen 6 years ago

Will I be taxed every time I eat a helping of refried beans?

epa_man 6 years ago

Sorry folks but this is a hair brain hypothetical the Farm Bureau is pushing all over the country. Why the author if this article didn't check with local EPA officials I don't know, but it might of helped to stop the dreaded "cow tax" rumor from spreading even more. You have almost an entire article that consists of local farmers commenting on a rumor and only one sentence from the EPA. Come on LJW you gotta present both sides of the story.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years ago

"Come on LJW you gotta present both sides of the story."Apparently, the story they reported isn't even a story. That the Farm Bureau is hyping more of its propaganda is a story, but one that rarely gets reported.

workinghard 6 years ago

I think this was in the works way before Obama took office.

50YearResident 6 years ago

Next: Teenage boys get annual gas tax @ $75.00 per head.

cowboy 6 years ago

I'm going to apply for a gov't grant to implant a fan assembly into my steers a$$ and convert the gas to wind power. It'll either work or i'll have steers flyin all over the county.

igby 6 years ago

Liberals have a short memory as to why they were out of power for 8 years in Washington. Perhaps they have forgotten how it feels to be out-of-power and sick-brained, all spewing W. for eight years. We will remind you in 2010.All you people that are Obamatrons, will soon realize you wasted $700 million dollars. You get a fraction of what you paid for and that's all you deserve.

TheYetiSpeaks 6 years ago

Whats next? Tax fat guys who eat lots of bratwurst and cauliflower?

spankyandcranky 6 years ago

If EPA officials insist that their "report ... does not include a proposal to tax livestock," where is the AFB getting their info when they say, "The fee would apply to farms with livestock operations that emit more than 100 tons of carbon emissions in a year, which, based on federal agriculture department figures, would include those with more than 25 dairy cows, 50 beef cattle or 200 hogs"? It seems pretty unlikely that this will happen, as it would force most agricultural farmers out of business and/or make meat more expensive than the average family could afford. If it actually went through, the US population would REALLY be asking, "Where's the beef?"

igby 6 years ago

Vegetarians fart more than meat eaters! Lol.It's a fact!

JayCat_67 6 years ago

"Next: Teenage boys get annual gas tax @ $75.00 per head."For my boys, that would be a bargain.

dozer 6 years ago

Jesse Fray - this is a crappy article, no pun intended. Why not actually put some work into your article and speak with both the Farm Bureau and the EPA to understand why they are making the argument instead of gleaning your info from the headline of a press release. Quite wasting space with bullcrap articles and actually educate the reader with your content.

Mixolydian 6 years ago

This reads like an article from the Onion or the Weekly World News. All it needs is a pic of Batboy belching.

davidmcg 6 years ago

Well this is my opinion on the matter. First as has been stated, this is one of the dumbest ideas to ever come out of Washington D.C. Secondly, global warming and all is a bunch of crap. The earth has always gone through cycles, and thats what it is doing now. Third, for grins lets say the EPA committee on this officially adapts this. Then it is sent on to the Director of the EPA. Who in turn must either support it, throw it out or send back for further consideration. If the Director signs it, nothing happens right away. It still needs to be signed by the President. Who knows what he will do. He has back pedaled and changed his mind so often it is hard to tell. If he does sign it, there will be an immediate cry, first in the rural area where we raise all you citiy peoples meat. Then, after all the city people and tree huggers have to pay $15 a pound for hamburger, they will be a cry. After that, the politicians won't be able to do anything because every lobbiest and constituent in the country will be wanting to talk to them. So they will introduce a bill in Congress to overturn this. All of this would take 30 days. In the meantime 2 things will happen. Every rancher in the country would either sell off their entire herd all of it, or all but 49 to stay under the regs. The other thing that would happen is that the country would over night have 10 times the number of ranchers. Every rancher today to stay in business and avoid the tax would divide their operation into so many paper owners it would be crazy. In return the rancher would either have to give them free meat or pay them to be paper owners. That alone would drive costs up. So what is he actual scenario? The EPA will pass it, because they are idiots. But the President will never let it happen. The President is many things, but a totally ignorant fool he is not and I did not vote for him. But this entire situation should not be ignored. It is just another sad development into the stupidity of government and why most of them need to find a ne line of work. Throw out the EPA, USDA and DOE. Rebuild them with real people who aren't just there to justify a paycheck and are to lazy to do real work.

Hoots 6 years ago

It's a good thing I didn't get taxed on my production last night but my plants are greener today.

lounger 6 years ago

Smart move here. Something has to be done not only about the Co2 from cows but there waste as well. Open sewers is what some of Kansas has become because of waste and this is sad because its a beautiful state. There are smarter ways to do things-new ways. Start thinking more open minded and we will all get along better. Do nothing and we will slowly pay the cost-or should I say our Children will pay the cost-for a mounting bill we cannot pay. Our health is at Risk here. Lets work together for once....

jayhawklawrence 6 years ago

Makes you wonder who is minding the herd at the Farm Bureau. Republicans?Well I don't think a "Fart" tax should be retro-active. We need to come up with devices that can catch the green house gases when they are emitted and these should be installed on all future emitters.. Maybe we can work with Pampers to design some kind of device.Then we need to set up some kind of Boone Pickens type grid so we can move it around to where it is most needed, some place like Topeka.

HalsteadHawk 6 years ago

Ahhhhhh!! ManBearPig! Everybody Run!!

MissinLawrence 6 years ago

nothing better than to wake up and read about people wanting to tax gas emissions FROM COWS! What about taxing all the other gas emissions that are produced? (do they do this? i have no idea)

davidmcg 6 years ago

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus No I do not work for the farm bureau. I am just very clse to the ag community. I witness idiotic government policy in many different areas of public interest. My wife used to work for a defense contractor after my regular law enforcement job I worked for a time for a government contractor in the corrections field.Why do you believe you are a bozo on the bus. I thought the bus riders were going to help save the world.

Jerry Stubbs 6 years ago

This story is the front page story of the Tuesday print edition.It's unbelievable that LJW would print this when there is absolutely no basis for any plans for this kind of tax. (the last paragraph of the story confirms this: )"EPA officials insist the ...... report, ... does not include a proposal to tax livestock"Does the idiot that makes up the headlines and decides the layout even read the entire stories?

rightthinkertwo 6 years ago

Just another law to put the small farmer and rancher out of competion and let the big corporation's control the market just like oil.

davidmcg 6 years ago

logrithmicYou want to tax trucks. OK, but do you believe you are paying to much for things you buy in a store? You go and tax those trucks, the price gets passed on eventually. You want to tax pick-ups and SUV's? Those trucks and SUV's belong to the small companies that move and drive this country.I am telling people, taxes and more taxes aren't the answer. Its easy to see. When your property taxes increase, do you say "oh this is great, I didn't need that money anyhow"? Or do you say, "oh great, thats just that much more money I don't have to buy the things I need and want"? I bet its the latter of the two.Now sometimes an increase in taxes are a neccessary evil. It costs more to maintain roads, and emergency services. Take the article in todays paper, speeding tickets down and other traffic related tickets down. Step up enforcement and you instantly increase the municipal funds available and thus offset future tax increase requirements.But back to the cows, what this is all about. Its the feedlots that is where the problem is. How many people living in the city has ever been to a feedlot and how many of those who have been to one have been to a family farm? The differences are vast. If I had a feedlot I would capture that run-off and other effluent and drain it all into a enclosed cistern pit. You suck off the generated methane and run a small electrical turbine. It generates electricity for the feedlot and surrounding properties. Its a great idea, but the upfront costs are extremely high. There are some small federal grants available to encourage this. But our wonderful governor refuses to consider the same at the state level. Just like she refuses to work to re-instate the small wind turbine for residential owners. Stupid! Just think if more people who own an acre or more in our state which is ranked number 2 in wind potential had wind turbines to power their homes and small farms. Just think how much pollution would be kept from being generated.T Boone Pickens has some great ideas and some not so good. His wind plan is partially good. More residential wind turbines is a better fit for Kansas. Not an increase in natural gas usage by power plants and vehicles. We need that type of gas to heat our homes. Is anybody tired of their monthly gas bill increasing?Anyhow I rant to much. Nobody, not even me live in my perfect world. Does anyone live in your perfect world? Geez, I hope not.

tir 6 years ago

On the other hand, don't trees and other green plants actually help the atmosphere by absorbing carbon dioxide and converting it to oxygen? Maybe some farms have enough plant life growing on them to counteract the carbon dioxide "emissions" of the herds. Any experts out there who might know?

jaywalker 6 years ago

Perhaps some sort of ass attachment to collect the methane? Gotta be a good use for it. If we're gonna get serious about recycling........

Bob_Keeshan 6 years ago

This entire article is based on a myth. It is a scare tactic meant to divert away from solutions that would deal with actual pollutants.What ever happened to the liberal media?

jayhawklawrence 6 years ago

Like I was saying earlier, I think someone like Pampers can design a device that can fit in a diaper. Something like the movie "DUNE" where they recycled their body fluids. You would have enough power to run a small laptop, wristwatch, PDAs, etc. Then the Republicans can give Pampers a big tax cut and pass a law to outlaw the analog style diapers. This should not be retroactive. The last 8 years were enough for me.

jayhawklawrence 6 years ago

This is very obviously a Republican inspired disinformation piece. Based on the responses I am hearing, it has worked like a charm.You guys that fell for this are brainwashed.

sleepylady 6 years ago

I would love to see animal husbandry go the way of the horse & carriage. Go vegitarian!

tolawdjk 6 years ago

Wow Tom interesting, care to give a citation for that quote by Browner? I only question this because Browner -isn't- the new EPA chief.Its sad that you believe that to be an actual quotation.

feeble 6 years ago

where's the beef? This article is high on speculation and light on facts. Is the LJworld publishing flamebait just to drive article comments?on a slightly tangential note, at one time, I lived in southern Virginia, and run off from the very large hog farms in that area (southern virginia/northern n.c.) did do a number on the environment. Obviously, these were very large operations, with hundreds if not thousands of hogs.But seriously, without methane, how will we run Barter Town?

jaywalker 6 years ago

"I believe that the consumer culture pushed on us by the rightwing media - ...."People that post nonsense this stupid are......well, logrithmic.

Left_handed 6 years ago

If the EPA would rely on science instead of the Goreacle's Climate Change Religion they'd realize that carbon dioxide and methane emissions have no impact on world climate.

JackKats 6 years ago

Actually the number one critter that produces methane gas is the earth worm. Maybe we can all save the earth by going fishing?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years ago

"Why do you believe you are a bozo on the bus."We're all bozos on this bus, my fellow bozo.

nowandthen 6 years ago

I'm with the idea for tax for stupid people and their ideas

beatrice 6 years ago

High on speculation, short on facts -- are we talking about this story, or neocons in general? That such a poorly researched story would make people start flapping their wings about how much they hate Obama is too funny. Moo moo buckaroos. Somebody just needs to take a match to this work of fiction.

gr 6 years ago

"We're all bozos on this bus, my fellow bozo."And now it's the global warming wacko bus. Who is going to remain a bozo and who is going to get off? Or does it have any stops, once you get on? Lemming bozos. That's what they are.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years ago

You've most certainly earned you bozo nose, gr. And once you get on the bus, you can never get off.

staff04 6 years ago

This reminds me of all those family farms that the "death" tax were going to put out of business (as a fact, Farm Bureau, nor any other entity could produce a single case of a family farm being sold as a result of the estate tax).What a bunch of hysteria...

Chris Golledge 6 years ago

Hmm, I'm about as environmental as they come, but a tax on livestock for methane production would be stupid. A) Cows are just part of the general biomass; a good portion of the animals included in that produce methane. So, why single out domesticated animals? B) Animals just cycle carbon; unlike burning fossil fuels, they don't add any to the biosphere.

badger 6 years ago

I...I...Yeah, I'm trying to come up with something witty, but I'm laughing too hard.This is ludicrously awesome. I especially like the fake quote about installing methane collectors on cows.

Christine Anderson 6 years ago

Seriously, if we just have a talk with the cows about their flatuating ways, I'm sure they will cooperate.I've got some relatives who could help reduce the national debt if they had to pay a tax on their farts. Two of my ex-husband's siblings would qualify also.

billbodiggens 6 years ago

I think they need to stop the burning of the FlinT Hills every year. That has got to release tons of toxins and CO2 for what purpose. Just for food? What a horrible thing to do.

TopJayhawk 6 years ago

Yeah right. Instead of adding to global warming, let's contribute to global starvation.Next we should tax all Mexican resauraunts. Maybe we could give the cattle some sort of bovine Maalox.

lwctown 6 years ago

Why dont they just charge 5 cents more for a hamurger?How is the farmer supposed to pass that extra cost on? They can only sell beef for the market price.

gphawk89 6 years ago

A bovine flatulence tax... What's next?? Might as well take this a step farther and tax pet farts, too. The EPA has not yet figured out how to make a profit off wild farts from deer, elk, bears, prairie dogs, and the like. But I bet they're trying.Why don't the farmers somehow channel all that valuable methane into a device that generates electricity? Anyone remember that aspect of Mad Max 3?

janeyb 6 years ago

Maybe that is why the Kansas legislature wants to make it illegal to have a BIC lighter before the age of 18---afraid some dumb kid will light it up by a farting cow. Is it a plot to turn us into vegetarians so they can implant a GPS system on all Americans and start charging us for our fart output? Tax collections off of fuel taxes have dropped drastically so they have to get some new tax sources somehow.

afakename 6 years ago

grass (which cows eat), crops (which cows and people eat) and many trees (which provide food in many cases and shade to cool the earth) fix co2 and exchange it for oxygen. since most of our nations grass, crops and trees are produced by farmers and ranchers who also raise livestock; i would say the ledger favors farmers and rancher saving the planet.oh, and by the way, there is also talk about paying ranchers for carbon credits earned from grass, crops and trees they produce. that is just as stupid as taxing the cow farts. it's basically a way to redistribute money from the consumer (all of us) to the government.before anyone supports any new tax for whatever reason, just be sure you know we all pay for it directly or indirectly.

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