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November 24, 2008   Email to Friend 

Debra Davis
(334) 613-4686
November 24, 2008

MONTGOMERY, Ala.-- A new proposal by the Environmental Protection Agency would devastate Alabama's multi-million dollar livestock industry and cause food prices to escalate, according to officials with the Alabama Farmers Federation, the state's largest agricultural organization.

The proposal is essentially a tax on livestock operations, said Perry Mobley, director of the Federation's Beef Division.

The American Farm Bureau Federation, which includes the Alabama Farmers Federation, has registered its opposition to the proposal aimed at regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.

"Most livestock and dairy farmers would not be able to pass along this tax," Mobley said. "If this proposal is finalized, it would put many producers out of business and would likely result in higher consumer costs for milk, beef and pork."

EPA is seeking public comments until Nov. 28, and the Federation is urging its members to oppose the measure by contacting EPA officials. Comment information is available on the Federation's Web site at www.AlfaFarmers.org under Action Alert.

According to U.S. Department of Agriculture figures, any farm or ranch with more than 25 dairy cows, 50 beef cattle or 200 hogs emits more than 100 tons of carbon equivalent per year, and thus would need to obtain a permit under the proposed rules. More than 90 percent of U.S. dairy, beef and pork production would be affected by the proposal. Mobley said the figure could be even higher for Alabama.

Permit fees would vary from state to state, but EPA sets a "presumptive minimum rate" for fees. For 2008-2009, the rate is $43.75 per ton of emitted greenhouse gases. According to AFBF, the proposed fee would mean annual assessments of $175 for each dairy cow, $87.50 for each head of beef cattle and $20 for each hog.

"Reduction of a ton of greenhouse gases anywhere will make a difference, but if a ton is removed in Iowa and replaced by a ton in China, then no net effect occurred," said Mark Maslyn, AFBF executive director of public policy. "A livestock tax and regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act will impose restrictions and added costs on the U.S. economy without reducing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere."

Mobley said the proposal is unclear as to how the money would be collected, and although the rule is simply a proposal right now, this is the first step toward making it a permanent requirement for producers.

Twenty-three thousand farms in Alabama raise beef cattle, generating an estimated $431 million annually in cash receipts.

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