The Environmental Protection Agency has issued its final rule that will require livestock operations that emit 25,000 tons or more of greenhouse gases (GHG) per year from their manure management systems to report those emissions as part of a mandatory GHG gas registry. The National Cattlemen's Beef Association says the new rule will affect beef cattle operations that have 29,300 or more head of cattle, or about 150-180 cattle operations nationwide. This is significantly more than the 11 operations EPA originally projected to be covered under the proposed rule released in April. 

 

According to an EPA report issued last April, GHGs from all livestock manure management systems in the United States account for only 0.8 percent of all U.S. GHG emissions, and manure management systems from the beef sector emit only 0.12 percent of total emissions. 

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"As such a minor emitter, this type of reporting by the livestock sector will not provide data that is useful in addressing EPA's long-term goal of reducing major sources of GHG emissions, and it would be a significant financial and administrative burden on cattle operations," according to a statement issued by NCBA. "Instead of being regulated, agriculture should be considered a solution to the climate change problem by providing important sources of offsets such as soil carbon sequestration and renewable energy," NCBA added.

NCBA said the efficiencies found in cattle feeding "are critical to providing a nutritious and affordable food supply. Emissions from beef manure management systems are purely natural, and in no way should be compared to emissions from cars or factories. This is not factory farming; this is efficient food production that enables our nation to feed itself and the rest of the world. It is unfortunate that the federal government has chosen to cause additional financial hardship to America's farmers during these difficult economic times."