For the second time in a month, the Obama Administration postponed action on bills dealing with clean air and pollution emissions, and this certainly affects segments of the agricultural community. Some call this backing down, while others consider it common sense. During the past decade, interest groups and stakeholders on all sides have spoken up, and a few scaremongers from the extremes have used the debate to further causes or raise money. Most of us realize that cow emissions are not the major reason why polar bears are having trouble locating solid ice floes. On the other hand, those who claimed the EPA wanted to impose a livestock flatulence tax were probably getting a bit hyperbolic.
Bovine air emissions weren’t much of a concern when I hand-milked our family cow in the 1960s. Personal experience taught me to be more worried about Bossy’s solid particulates. As noted Midwest writer Michael Perry says, it’s foolish to stand behind a sneezing cow. And the old Guernsey had other ways to vex a 13-year old kid, like coming in for milk time with a mud-caked udder or twitching at a fly violently enough to kick over a partially-filled bucket. It was years later when I first learned of CO2 concentrations and climate change possibilities.
Today, the real pollution might be coming from the alarmists on both sides: Those who blindly push for regulations without knowing the facts or the consequences, and those who loudly attack any regulations no matter how beneficial they might be.
The best way to clear the air is through the use of unbiased research and scientific analysis. The Council for Agricultural Science and Technology has two timely publications dealing with air quality.
· Air Issues Associated with Animal Agriculture: A North American Perspective: A team of experts led by Dr. Larry Jacobson examine a large amount of data and go beyond the generalizations and accusations often associated with the air quality topic. Dr. Frank Mitloehner presented the timely material at three rollout events in Washington, D.C., on Monday, September 19. The paper and a video of the presentation are available here.
· Carbon Sequestration and Greenhouse Gas Fluxes in U.S. Agriculture: Challenges and Opportunities for Mitigation. With input from 22 experts, this 116-page Task Force Report provides up-to-date information on the science of carbon sequestration and GHG mitigation for various sectors of U.S. agriculture, including logistical and economic considerations for implementing practices designed to reduce this country's GHG emissions from agriculture. The publication will be available in October. Check the CAST website.
Credible research, thoughtful debate, and sensible policymaking will help achieve what we need: a strong ag economy and a safe environment. Back on my boyhood farm, we needed the milk, and even though I’m not much for rules, occasionally I wished someone would have regulated Bossy. I put up with a few of her tail-slaps to the head while I was milking, but when the tail contained solid cow emissions, it was time to clean up my environment. Where was the EPA when I needed it? by dan gogerty
Note: photo from bkintern.blogspot.com