No, Biden's Build Back Better plan won't tax cow farts

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Republicans are falsely claiming provisions of President Joe Biden's investment plan would tax flatulent cattle.

Republicans have a new false line of attack against President Joe Biden's $3.5 trillion Build Back Better investment proposal: It would tax gaseous bovines.

In a video on Friday, Florida Rep. Brian Mast asked two of his kids for their thoughts on Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi "putting a tax on cow farts."

"That's stupid. So, what, they gonna put cans by the butt of a cow and collect the gas? It's not our problem that a cow farts," answers one child.

"I fart. Are they gonna tax me?" asks the other.

In a Sept. 22 column posted on his official website, Oklahoma Rep. Markwayne Mullin made a similar charge:

In an attempt to eliminate fossil fuels, this legislation would impose a 'fee' on all methane emissions, including in our agriculture industry. We all know that a fee is just a tax and that consumers are the ones who will pay for it. The tax is estimated to cost $6,500 per dairy cow, $2,600 per head of cattle, and $500 per swine each year. That is more than what the animals are worth, it’ll run ranchers out of business.

Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee warned," Got milk? Not with this tax hike on the farmers who feed America."

Arizona Rep. Debbie Lesko too railed against the fictitious fee, tweeting, "This bill is an attack on America's farmers!"

Conservative radio host Erick Erickson dedicated his show on Sept. 29 to the subject "The Democrats Want to Tax Cow Farts."

Cow gas contains methane, a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. Some progressives have proposed taxing factory farms to address the emissions, and one 2019 version of the Green New Deal proposal included the idea.

But the text of the Build Back Better legislation makes no mention of charging any farmers for their cows breaking wind.

A Tulsa World fact check on Sept. 29 noted that the bill's methane fee only applies to "pollution from the oil and gas industry above specific intensity thresholds" — not from agriculture.

A Mullin spokesperson conceded to the paper that a cow tax "is what could happen if the methane fee were applied to agriculture. Right now the text of the bill only specifies the oil and gas industry."

A representative for the American Farm Bureau Federation told the news site Agri-Pulse that it did an analysis "to determine the potential impact if agriculture were to be included in legislation imposing such a tax. ... We believe this analysis was informative and helpful in demonstrating that such a tax would have been devastating to agriculture."

Agri-Pulse reported that the spokesperson, Sam Kieffer, noted that "the current language of the reconciliation bill does not impose a methane tax on agriculture."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.