The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a tax on cattle and hogs that officials say contribute to carbon emissions. Annual fees could range as high as $87.50 per head for beef cattle.
Ranchers say it could put them out of business. Supporters say it would force ranchers to switch to “healthier crops.”
This argument is the same gross overgeneralization often put forth by the vegetarian crowd — that all meat production contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions and that people are healthier eating a grain-based diet.
While the greenhouse gas assertion may be true for animals fed grain in feedlots and factory farms, the opposite is actually true for animals raised on pasture. In fact, animals raised on pasture rather than on grain actually can help reduce carbon buildup. Management intensive grazing or holistic pasture management actually promotes the growth of oxygen-producing plants — grasses and other forage — while reducing the amount of gases produced by the animals themselves. Grasslands also may be more effective than trees at removing carbon emissions from the air.
In addition, pasture-based agriculture eliminates the fossil-fuel intensive production of cereal grains, which must be planted, fertilized, cultivated, treated with pesticides, harvested and transported. Grain farming is a leading cause of death of songbirds, and the overconsumption of cereal grains by humans is a major contributor to many chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer.
Scientific research has shown the health risks associated with vegetarianism. Meat from grassfed animals is a much healthier choice, with a fat profile closer to that of wild game animals that humans have eaten throughout evolution.
It would make more sense for the EPA to tax cattle producers that use the grain-fed feedlot approach while giving a tax break to ranchers who are raising animals on pasture and using holistic grazing practices. While we’re at it, why not cut out subsidies for and heavily tax the big producers of corn and other grains that are at the root of so many environmental and health problems.
Bumper sticker of the month: Religion is for people who are scared of going to Hell. Spirituality is for people who have already been there.