Obama must stop the 'war on cows'

Published on Sunday, 20 April 2014 22:09 - Written by

Planning on grilling out in the coming months? Be ready for some sticker shock at the grocery store. Beef prices are skyrocketing. One reason, some say, is that the Obama administration has declared war — on cows.

Sure, a record drought in Texas (the nation’s premier beef-producing state) has caused beef prices to rise.

“According to federal government figures, beef prices are at their highest levels in almost 30 years,” NPR reported. “The average price of choice-grade beef in February was $5.28. Numbers aren’t out yet for March or April, but they’ll be high as well. ‘We’re in record territory actually,’ says David Anderson, a professor of agricultural economics at Texas A&M University. He says the biggest reason for these high prices is drought.”

Drought means higher feed prices, and those costs are passed along to beef consumers.

But wait — what about the Obama administration’s bad attitude about beef — a beef chip on its shoulder, so to speak?

“Last month, the president released a climate action plan designed to cut methane emissions,” said Daren Bakst of the Heritage Foundation. “If you are a cow, be afraid. Be very afraid. The same goes for humans. The plan outlines voluntary measures, such as a ‘Biogas Roadmap,’ to reduce dairy sector greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020.”

The math works like this. Agriculture counts for a small part of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions made by humans (about 8 percent). Part of that percentage is caused by cows. As Bakst explained, this is “enteric fermentation — the digestive process that leads to cow methane emissions, which are emitted in ways that are not appreciated at dinner parties.”

It’s true that methane emissions have fallen 11 percent in recent years, but that’s not good enough for the Obama administration.

“There’s nothing the U.S. can do in terms of reducing GHG emissions that would have any meaningful impact on global temperature,” Bakst said. “Given the miniscule contribution cows make to GHG emissions, any efforts to address cows and their GHG emissions is all cost and no benefit. Yet, the regulation of cow emissions could be on the horizon. While no regulations are planned as of now (as far as the public knows), it’s naïve to think that any voluntary measures related to global warming won’t lead to new regulations.”

One group of senators is already calling for voluntary measures, but warning of mandatory ones. Others are advocating a “meat tax” to discourage consumption.

“Everyone should be concerned when the ridiculous becomes a topic of ‘serious’ policy discussion,” Bakst said. “The very idea of regulating cow methane emissions sounds funny, because it seems too silly to happen. Unfortunately, absent congressional action, it will likely become a reality.”

Backyard chefs know what’s at steak here. As we enter grilling season, there’s nothing less than our way of life and our proud Texas barbecue traditions.

Now that the drought has broken, there’s hope for lower beef prices — as long as we don’t let the Obama administration’s war on beefy deliciousness continue unchecked.