Recent Op-Eds

Agriculture is the largest sector of the South Dakota economy, and ranching is one of the most significant components of agricultural production in our state. There is a proud ranching and farming tradition in South Dakota that is as integral to our culture as it is to our economy, and it should be preserved for future generations.

In 1999, an environmental group sued the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to force the regulation of carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. That lawsuit dragged on until 2007, when the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, ruled that the EPA had to act upon carbon dioxide under the Clean Air Act. Forced to act by the courts, the EPA then produced a draft plan to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, including carbon dioxide. While we can address concerns related to climate change through the promotion of clean energy, virtually every part of our economy would be affected by such a burdensome plan, and livestock production in particular would suffer.

Under the proposed EPA rules, industry experts predict that producers would face a tax of $175 for each dairy cow, $87.50 for each head of beef cattle, and $20 for each hog on farms that emit more than 100 tons of carbon equivalent each year. Such rules would subject more than 20,000 farms or 90 percent of U.S. dairy, beef, and pork production to these fees.

Obviously, such fees would be a devastating burden on our already strained livestock producers here in South Dakota and across the country and would increase the cost of food to all Americans. It is of vital importance that lawmakers and regulators hear the voices of cattle producers when deciding on these rules, and I encourage South Dakota’s producers to learn more about the EPA’s public comment process, which ends in January 2009.

It is distressing that a court decision would lead to a regulatory change resulting in an enormous burden on America’s livestock industry without any legislative input from Congress, especially since the Clean Air Act never sought to regulate carbon dioxide. I will work with my Senate colleagues to ensure that Congress maintains its primary role in guiding policy on issues such as the environment and industry regulation.

Cattle production will always have an important place in South Dakota’s economy. As your U.S. Senator, I will continue to fight burdensome regulations that would have an adverse effect on livestock production. I look forward to working with South Dakota ranchers on these important issues in the future.