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By NWV News writer Jim Kouri
Posted 1:00 AM Eastern
June 14, 2009

The recent Environmental Protection Agency's plan to initiate a so-called greenhouse gas tax on privately owned dairy farms and livestock has farmers up in arms.

According to a segment on the Glenn Beck Show on Fox News Channel, the EPA will institute new rules and regulations to control greenhouse emissions by farm animals. During this tough economic time, it is unfair and irresponsible to levy such a tax on family farms, according to conservatives.

Under Title V of the Clean Air Act, farmers would pay a hefty permit fee for animals that emit 100 tons of greenhouse gasses annually, affecting the vast majority of the nation's livestock operations.

Any farm with more than 25 dairy cows, 50 beef cattle or 200 hogs would have to obtain a permit to operate, which, according to the United State Department of Agriculture, would cover 99 percent of New York dairy production, 95 percent of its hog production and 90 percent of beef production.

According to one organization, the New York Farm Bureau, the new permits would cost farmers well over $110 million a year, dramatically impacting the agricultural sector and economy. The tax is estimated at $175 per dairy cow, $87.50 per head of beef cattle and $20 per hog. The added financial burden on already-struggling farmers could force many family farms out of business and lead to a raise in food prices.

While greenhouse gas contributes to global warming -- according to some scientists and liberal-left politicians -- not all emissions are equal. Under this federal proposal, livestock is held as accountable as the industrial and transportation sectors, which is simply illogical. That's essentially saying that a living. Breathing cow is as detrimental to the environment as a coal-powered machine.

"The Obama Administration and the EPA officials fail to understand how important family farms are to our upstate rural communities. I don't support any tax that hurts farms and I am appalled with this permit requirement which could shut down our agricultural sector, causing catastrophic consequences the American economy," said political strategist Mike Baker.

"I would advise Americans to buy skis because we are in the precipice of a very slippery slope. The federal government will now begin to dictate what farmers may own and what they must do to keep what they own. In a bad economy, is that the plan of a sane administration?" adds Baker.

"Control the food production and you can control the people. What they are doing is creating starvation of Biblical proportions," said a farmer who wished to remain anonymous.

US Department of Agriculture statistics indicate that the permit requirement and tax would include 99 percent of milk production, more than 90 percent of beef production and more than 95 percent of all hog production in the United States.

In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency has told Maryland's poultry farmers it intends to enforce for the first time federal pollution rules governing chicken manure -- a crackdown that has surprised and angered growers while pleasing environmentalists who've long complained about agricultural runoff fouling

At meetings between EPA officials and farm associations, attendees were told that hundreds of farmers must get federal pollution-discharge permits if any manure from their flocks are washing off their land into drainage ditches and streams. More than half of the state's 800 poultry farmers have filed notices to get the permits, state officials say, but most observers are not confident of being successful unless the case goes to the US Supreme Court and before President Obama has an opportunity to nominate more leftist SCOTUS justices.

The federal permits are tougher in key respects than what Maryland has so far been unable to establish for its poultry farmers. State regulations and permit requirements developed last year to cover about 200 of the largest chicken farms are on hold because of appeals filed both by environmentalists and farmers.

On Friday, June 12, the EPA extended the compliance date for all facilities and established a new compliance date for farms subject to the oil Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures (SPCC) regulations.

"This final rule is part of EPA’s multi-phased strategy to address concerns with the SPCC regulation. Specifically, this SPCC rule amendment extends the dates by which the owner or operator of an SPCC regulated facility or farm must prepare or amend and implement an SPCC plan to November 10, 2010.

"These amendments do not remove any regulatory requirement for owners or operators of facilities in operation before August 16, 2002, to maintain and implement SPCC plans in accordance with the SPCC regulations then in effect. Such facilities are required to maintain their plans until the applicable date for revising and implementing their plans under the new amendments," according to a notice sent to farmers and farm associations.

Many Washington lawmakers, however, on both sides of the isle view this latest EPA move as a negative plan of action.

For example, New York's Democrat Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's office told the Washington Times editorial page writers that she stands behind her position from December of 2008, which is that "individuals should not be taxed for methane emissions coming from their farms."

While in the House of Representatives, Sen. Gillibrand -- who recently was appointed a Senator to fill the seat left by Hillary Clinton -- served on the Agricultural Committee. When asked about the EPA plan to tax animal flatulence, then New York Representative Kirsten Gillibrand, on the House Agriculture Committee, said, "[T]he whole idea stinks."

"The first thing I'm going to do is call the chairman of our Agriculture Committee and talk to him about this and how it's upset my farmers and ask him how quickly we can get this done," she said.

The Farm Bureau is urging farmers to contact their federally elected officials to express support for the bills to protect livestock agriculture from what they consider an oppressive tax. The numbers for the bills are H.R. 1426 in the House, and S. 527 in the US Senate.

Farm Bureau and conservative activists believe this tax will increase the price of meat -- beef and pork products -- and poultry. In addition, the price of eggs and milk will increase to cover losses that result from high taxation.

"This is just another tax on farmers, who already have to pay exorbitant property taxes, payroll taxes, and more. And they will of a necessity pass on those additional business costs to the consumers -- that's you and me," said retired New York University economist Sol Weintraub.

"A farm tax during a severe economic recession doesn't make sense to me. Even during good times, it's a bad move by an already inflated government bureaucracy," said Dr. Weintraub.

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"Control the food production and you can control the people. What they are doing is creating starvation of Biblical proportions,"