A recent Environmental Protection Agency rule-making report triggered much speculation and interpretation that the agency would likely impose a "tax" on livestock and dairy operations for methane emissions.

The 570-page report's objective was to outline ways to implement the Clean Air Act. It included sections related to reducing livestock methane emissions. However, EPA officials have stepped out to emphasize the report should not be interpreted that the agency will actually tax farmers for their livestock or dairy animals.

Upon the report's release, the agricultural community's red flags quickly flew. For example, the American Farm Bureau Federation estimated the report's exploration of farmers with 25 dairy cows or 50 beef cattle would be expected to buy permits for each ton of methane those animals released, and that it could cost farmers $175 per dairy cow and $87.50 per beef cow annually. AFBF circulated a document outlining this prospect.

EPA has since released a statement, saying that it is currently reviewing public comments on proposed rule changes to the Clean Air Act. The agency said, however, that it is not proposing a “cow tax” as a way to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. Click here to read EPA's statement. Click here for more details from The Baxter Bulletin

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) also has further clarified the concept, saying that he has written to EPA to drop any consideration of imposing such fees.

Catherine Milbourn, EPA spokesperson, also told the Times Union, of Albany, N.Y., that EPA has not proposed a livestock/dairy tax and hasn't said that it will target farmers as it decides how to move forward in enforcing the Clean Air Act.