To the editor:
Not all farmers and ranchers are opposed to a reasonable methane emissions tax on livestock. As a farmer and rancher, I think a tax on livestock methane emissions would be a good start toward including the currently externalized environmental costs of raising livestock and an essential step in moving toward a more sustainable food system. The $87.50 for every head of beef cattle that the American Farm Bureau claims the EPA wants to impose on farmers would translate to less than 20 cents per pound in the grocery store.
Far from being “unthinkable” or “ridiculous,” developing and imposing taxes on greenhouse gases is perhaps the best and maybe the only way to get all of us to stop living in denial and start developing more sustainable agriculture, transportation, housing and energy production technologies and practices.
Our current system is not sustainable, and we must find ways to stop externalizing the environmental costs of our way of life. How do we make these changes? Voluntary “free market” incentives do not have a strong record of protecting our common biosphere. Who would the farmers interviewed for your Feb. 9 article, “A penalty for polluting animals?,” have pay for livestock methane emissions? Who should pay for the carbon emissions of a coal plant? Do they deny that these costs are real?
As things are now, we are pushing those costs on to our children and grandchildren. I hope we can begin soon to carefully consider how we all must pay.
Wayne A. White,