Okay, what’s the deal with the cow tax? The American Farm Bureau issued a release on November 20 saying it was opposed to allowing the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate greenhouse gases because this would lead to a tax on livestock. Cows and hogs belch and, well, you know, they emit other gases containing carbon. And carbon leads to global warming. The Farm Bureau executive director estimated that if there were a tax rate of $43.75 per ton of emitted greenhouse gases, then the fee would mean an annual assessment of $175 for each dairy cow, $87.50 for each head of beef cattle and $20 per hog. This caused a general “panic” in the farming community, according to the New York Times. “Our profit margin on the cattle we sell is about $87,” said one Alabama cattleman. “If they pass this tax, it would take away all of our profit.”

Cooler heads have prevailed, however. The newspaper in Florence, Alabama, quotes the president of the Alabama Cattleman’s Association: “It’s not going to happen. We’ve talked to EPA and they told us it’s not even in their game plan.” R-CALF, a cattle producers’ group, issued a release saying there was no tax planned. “This so-called cow and pig tax has stirred up livestock producers everywhere, which is exactly what U.S. corporate agribusinesses and their respective trade associations want to happen, so that our attention is diverted away from the true issues immediately facing us,” said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard. “This sort of spin has ““ temporarily ““ shifted the focus away from important issues like country-of-origin labeling (COOL), the examination of U.S. antitrust laws, the fight to prevent the introduction of diseases like BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) and FMD (foot-and-mouth disease), as well as the anticompetitive effects from packer-owned livestock and other captive supply practices.”

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