The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) renewed its calls for Congress to pass the Livestock Regulatory Protection Act to avoid overregulation in the livestock industry.
If passed, the bill would amend the Clean Air Act and prohibit the U.S. government from issuing permits regulating carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, water vapor, or methane emissions resulting from biological processes associated with livestock production.
NCBA said these emissions are naturally occurring due to cattle’s biological functions, and cattle producers continue to employ innovative practices to mitigate the impact of these emissions on the environment.
Overall, emissions from cattle production represent only a very small portion of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. For example, methane emissions from cattle account for just 2 percent of total U.S. emissions.
“American cattle producers’ commitment to reducing their environmental footprint while simultaneously improving efficiency makes our farms and ranches the most sustainable in the world. Unfortunately, overregulation and excessive permitting would jeopardize the cattle industry’s progress towards greater sustainability,” said NCBA Chief Counsel Mary-Thomas Hart.
The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works has yet to approve the legislation before it is sent to the full Senate for consideration. The committee held a hearing on Wednesday, where panelists testified regarding the legislation.
“I’ve long been concerned with efforts to impose onerous regulations and costly permit fees on animal emissions and the negative effect it would have on U.S. agriculture producers’ ability to continue providing a safe and abundant food supply for our nation and the world,” said Sen. John Thune (R-SD). “Regulating animal emissions could ultimately lead to higher food costs for consumers who are already facing increased food prices.
Scott VanderWal, vice-president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, said farmers and ranchers are producing food with more efficiency and fewer emissions while finding ways to be more sustainable.
“U.S. farmers and ranchers have long been at the forefront of climate-smart farming, utilizing scientific solutions, technology, and innovations to raise crops and care for livestock,” he said. “These efforts are designed to protect soil and water, efficiently manage manure, produce clean and renewable energy, capture carbon, and improve sustainability.”
The renewed calls come as farmers in the Netherlands continue protesting over the government’s plans to reduce nitrogen emissions by 50 percent by 2030. Agriculture accounts for 87.3 percent of ammonia emissions in the Netherlands.
To meet the reduction targets, thousands of farmers will have to reduce their livestock numbers, and those that don’t will be forced to close their operations altogether.
The USDA said in a report that farmers in some provinces will be particularly hard hit by the area-oriented approach, and the Dutch government acknowledged “there is not a future for all [Dutch] farmers within [this] approach.”