Recent Press Releases

Thune Denounces EPA Proposal

Plan Could Spur New Tax on Ag Producers

March 24, 2009

Washington, D.C. —  Senator John Thune expressed new concerns about a potential cattle tax this week after learning the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sent a proposal to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on Friday that could pave the way for new regulations on carbon dioxide and methane gases.

Following a ruling by the Supreme Court last year which compelled the EPA to act, the EPA discussed regulating greenhouse gases under the 1990 amendments to the Clean Air Act. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) submitted formal comments suggesting that such an approach by EPA could include requiring farmers and ranchers to purchase expensive permits. The proposed "tax" - $175 per dairy cow, $87.50 per beef cow, and $20 per hog - would cost South Dakota farmers and ranchers approximately $367 million.

"This recent action by EPA is yet another step down a slippery slope that could result in a tax on livestock operations in South Dakota," said Thune. "I have talked with a number of livestock producers across South Dakota who have said this tax would be extremely detrimental to the livestock industry. The Clean Air Act was written to curb pollution from smokestack industries, not to regulate the livestock industry."

In response to this proposed EPA rule, Senator Thune and Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) introduced a bill (S.527) that would prevent the government from imposing an onerous "cow tax" on farmers and ranchers across the country. The bipartisan legislation has been cosponsored by eight other Senators since being introduced earlier this month.

Last week, Senator Thune received a letter from the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) voicing support for the bipartisan legislation, a copy of the letter is below:


March 19, 2009

The Honorable John Thune
U.S. Senate
493 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Charles Schumer
U.S. Senate
313 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senators Thune and Schumer,

On behalf of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), the nation's leading small business advocacy organization, I want to thank you for introducing the bipartisan S. 527, a bill to exempt livestock from certain regulatory requirements under the Clean Air Act (CAA).

According to the NFIB 2008 Small Business Problems and Priorities publication, small business owners agree that "coping with government regulation" is one of their most formidable business problems, ranking it sixth out of 75 small business problems they face. Small businesses lack specialized regulatory compliance staff. Therefore, compliance falls on the owner, in addition to their other responsibilities.

As you may know, NFIB counts among its members numerous small family farms. Many of these members have expressed to us their fears of increases in costs and potential business loss should they be subject to what is commonly referred to as a "cow tax" or "pork tax." Although the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has yet to move forward on their 2008 proposal to regulate greenhouse gases (GHGs), likely through a fee-based permit system, NFIB is pleased that your legislation is proactive and will prevent the EPA from imposing any new fees on America's farmers and ranchers.

In addition to livestock facilities facing the threat of going out of business, there are other unintended consequences our economy could face should your bill not be enacted. If the EPA were able to act on their 2008 proposal, not only would livestock operators face higher operating costs, but food costs would soar - directly affecting every American's kitchen table and wallet. In a time of economic uncertainty, new taxes and fees are the last thing the government should be imposing on our nation's small businesses, especially farmers and ranchers on whom so many Americans depend.

Thank you again for introducing this important legislation to alleviate regulatory burdens on America's small farmers and ranchers. I look forward to working with you on this issue during the 111th Congress.


Susan Eckerly
Senior Vice President
Public Policy