October 1, 2021 – By Colter Brown –
Information posted to social media asserted that the reconciliation bill being debated in Congress included a per-head methane tax on livestock. American Farm Bureau Federation Vice President for Public Affairs Sam Kieffer commented on the confusion surrounding the proposed methane tax.
“To clear up any confusion, I want to make clear that the current language of the reconciliation bill does not impose a methane tax on agriculture.
“Over the summer, American Farm Bureau economists conducted an analysis, at the request of Congressional committee staff, to determine the potential impact if agriculture were to be included in legislation imposing such a tax. We did so based on the formula set forth in legislative proposals that impose a methane tax on the oil and gas sectors. We believe this analysis was informative and helpful in demonstrating that such a tax would have been devastating to agriculture.
“While we oppose any tax on methane, Farm Bureau is grateful to lawmakers for recognizing the thin margins in agriculture and that such a tax would undoubtedly put family farms out of business. We are especially grateful to the Senate for passing an amendment that specifically exempts agriculture.”
In an open letter that has now gone viral, Oklahoma Congressman Markwayne Mullins called President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda a “blank check for socialism.”
He wrote, “This bill will change every American’s way of life. It’s filled with radical policy changes that will raise costs on all goods, put the federal government in charge of educating your kids, prioritize climate policy over national security, breach every American’s privacy, and saddle future generations with debt.
“In an attempt to eliminate fossil fuels, this legislation would impose a ‘fee’ on all methane emissions, including in our agriculture industry. We all know that a fee is just a tax and that consumers are the ones who will pay for it. The tax is estimated to cost $6,500 per dairy cow, $2,600 per head of cattle, and $500 per swine each year. That is more than what the animals are worth, it’ll run ranchers out of business.”
Those figures caused a lot of concern for livestock producers. Northern Ag Network spoke with a member of Congressman Mullins’ staff to shed a little more light on the figures in the letter.
The spokeswoman for Mullin said “This is what could happen if the methane fee were applied to agriculture. Right now the text of the bill only specifies the oil and gas industry, but it also references EPA’s GHG inventory and leaves too much room for the EPA to expand its regulatory reach. However, during mark-up in the Energy and Commerce Committee, Republicans offered an amendment that would clarify that this methane tax would not apply to agriculture and the Democrats voted it down. Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (D-TX) even pointed out in her remarks that the ag industry was a larger source of methane emissions compared to oil and gas.”
“The numbers listed in our column,” she said. “come from an analysis from the American Farm Bureau. At the rate of $1,500 per metric ton of methane, as proposed, the overall impact on agriculture would be about $414.45 billion.”