Monday, January 5, 2009

Washington Agriculture News

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American Farm Bureau Regulatory Specialist Paul Schlegel

'Cow Tax' Worries Nation's Dairy Farmers
Washington--Cows could cost dairymen tens of thousands of dollars each year and drive up milk prices if an idea of the Environmental Protection Agency becomes law.

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer of New York says it amounts to a cow tax and says he wants to kill the idea before it gets started saying it could cost dairy and cattle farmers more than $120 million annually.

The tax idea comes as part of the EPA's Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, a rundown of regulations the agency issues when considering new ways to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

According to Schumer, the document calls for farmers whose farms emit more than 100 tons of methane to purchase permits, and that includes any farm with 25 or more dairy cows or 50 or more beef cows - which amounts to almost all farms in the nation.

"The bottom line is simple,'' Schumer continued, "this idea is absurd, and if imposed would be very, very bad for our farmers and for our whole economy. ... Now is the time to nip this in the bud and wipe out any and all suggestions of a cow tax.''

According to analysis done by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the American Farm Bureau Federation, Schumer said permits would cost farmers an estimated $175 per dairy cow and $87.50 per beef cow - totalling $13,000 and $22,000 a year for medium-sized dairy farms with 75 to 125 cows and $17,000 and $27,000 for medium-sized cattle farms with 200 to 300 cows.

"If American farms are forced to scale back or raise prices, it's going to affect all of us,'' Schumer said, "because it will mean that everyone will pay more for milk and dairy products and meat and meat products. We've heard enough reports about Chinese baby formula tainted with melamine and Mexican jalapenos contaminated with salmonella to know that putting American farms out of business does not spell good things for the whole health of the nation's dairy and meat supply.''

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