Livestock News

NCBA unveils principles for climate change policy proposals


Climate change is all over recent headlines, many putting a blame on livestock and agriculture. Accusing us of bearing the brunt of the carbon footprint of today’s society. To combat the accusations, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s Center for Public Policy released new Cost/Benefit Principles that will help guide its decision-making process on various proposals regarding climate change policy.

“It seems like every week or so, another group releases another proposal or call to ‘Do Something’ about climate change — such as the so-called ‘Green New Deal’ that was released today,” said Colin Woodall, NCBA Senior Vice President, Government Affairs. “Unfortunately, many of these proposals are often lacking in specifics, which makes it very hard for us to develop substantive responses. Hopefully, our new Cost/Benefit Principles will help the producers we represent – as well as millions of other concerned American citizens – make better-informed decisions on important issues like climate change.

The Cost/Benefit Principles is a very basic, yet apparently necessary, road map that should be asked of every proposal concerning climate change, especially the ones who are trying to get rid of “farting cows.” 

Woodall pointed out that U.S. beef producers have already made a great deal of progress on environmental issues like climate change, such as producing the same amount of beef with 33 percent fewer cattle, compared to 1977. Woodall also pointed out that beef producers in the U.S. now have one of the lowest carbon footprints compared to many of their worldwide counterparts – now producing only 2 percent of all carbon emissions in the United States.

“Despite all the progress we’ve made on the environmental front in recent decades, some policymakers still seem to think targeting U.S. beef producers and consumers will make a huge impact on global emissions,” Woodall said. “That’s why we drafted our Principles — to give the folks who are proposing new public policies the opportunity to outline the specific costs and estimated benefits of their proposals.”

NCBA’s new six-point Cost/Benefit Principles for Climate Change Policy Proposal:

1. Explain specifically what policy changes you are proposing.

2. Estimate as specifically as possible how much each of these policy changes would cost taxpayers, consumers of specific energy sources (automobile drivers, residential electricity users, airline travelers, etc.,) food consumers, and specific targeted industries / business owners, etc. Again, please be as specific as possible, and please detail costs on a monthly and annual basis for each affected group mentioned above.

3. Estimate how much CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced by a date certain (of your choosing) if your proposed policies outlined in Question 1 above were to be fully implemented. 

4. Estimate how much global temperatures would be changed by the same date certain you use in Question 3 if your policy recommendations in Question 1 were to be fully implemented.

5. If any of your policy proposals are intended to reduce the consumption of beef, please detail specifically how much additional land must be converted to crop production in order to fill the protein-intake gap, i.e,, the difference between average protein intake via current beef consumption and what would have to be produced and consumed to keep protein-intake levels consistent under an all- or mostly vegetarian of vegan diet. Also, please identify specifically where this land is located, and how much additional GHGs would be released into the atmosphere by converting current pasture land into crop production.

6. Please show all your math for your estimated costs, emissions, average global temperature, and land conversion data outlined in Questions 2, 3, 4, and 5.

Woodall concluded. “What specifically are you proposing, how much will it cost, how much will it affect global temperatures down the road, and how did you arrive at those numbers? Seems like anyone who is proposing billions or trillions of dollars’ worth of policy changes should be happy to answer those questions. Yet for some reason, few currently are.” 

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