25 April 2009 - Let’s Be Vigilant

Over the past several months I have spent time on Samuelson Sez writing about rules and regulations being discussed on Capitol Hill that, in my opinion, could have a very negative impact on America’s farmers and ranchers and really make it difficult to do what you do....produce food for a hungry world.

Let me refresh your memory. There is talk of a tax on livestock because of the so-called harmful emissions that are put into the atmosphere by burping or flatulence. The other rule being discussed, that very well could become reality, deals with coarse particulate matter, we call it dust. The rule would force farmers and ranchers to control the movement of dust on their property. These ideas frighten America’s food producers, and for good reason. So I have asked you to become involved and to contact legislators and I thank those of you that have done just that.

An Illinois farmer shared with me the response he received from his Senator, Dick Durbin, when he wrote to him to express his concerns about the “cow tax” idea. This was the Senator’s response; “Some organizations are sharing inaccurate information regarding an Environmental Protection Agency proposal that would tax individual farm animals for natural emissions. These organizations have led people to believe that this proposal is close to being finished and will be an overwhelming burden on farmers. I am happy to inform you that no such proposal exists. This speculation developed from an EPA rule-making, addressing a Supreme Court decision and automobile emissions. To address this speculation on a cow-tax, the EPA released a statement denying plans for any tax for animal emissions and went even further stating that it did not believe the EPA had the statutory authority to impose such a tax or fee under current law”.

I want to believe Senator Durbin, but at the same time I must point out that in the story that was carried nationally there was a great deal of detail. Let me repeat from my mid-December column “The proposal would require farms with more than 25 dairy cows, 50 beef cattle or 200 hogs to pay an annual fee of about $175 for each dairy cow, $87.50 for each beef animal and $20 for each hog.”

That says to me that, contrary to Senator Durbin’s reassuring words, somebody at EPA has been spending time and effort preparing a plan. And that says to all of us in agriculture, we need to continue our vigilance to ensure that some of these impossible rules don’t become law.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.