FACT CHECK: Does The Build Back Better Act Impose A Steep Annual Tax On Livestock?

Trevor Schakohl, Elias Atienza | Contributor

An image shared on Facebook claims the Build Back Better Act imposes a steep annual tax on livestock.

Verdict: False

There is no evidence that the Build Back Better Act imposes any methane-related taxes or fees on livestock.

Fact Check:

Democrats in Congress are attempting to pass the Build Back Better Act, a $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package, according to CBS News. The bill currently includes funding for two years of community college for all students, an expansion of Medicare and an extension of the child credit, among other things, the outlet reported. (RELATED: Would Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda ‘Cost Zero Dollars’?)

Some social media users are sharing an image that claims the Build Back Better Act also includes a methane fee that will negatively impact cattle ranchers. “Deep in the bill is ‘methane fee’ of $2600. per cow per year for beef cattle, $500 for each hog and a whopping $6500. per cow per year for dairy cattle!” reads the post, in part. “Get ready to give up hamburger, bacon and milk.”

Cattle and other domestic livestock naturally emit methane as part of their normal digestive process, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. However, there is no evidence the piece of legislation currently contains any such “methane fee” on cattle or swine. Analyses of the bill from groups such as the Tax Foundation, Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget and the Penn-Wharton Budget Model make no mention of any tax or fee on livestock. The words “cattle,” “cow” and “swine” do not appear anywhere in the draft text of the bill.

Experts explained that the agricultural industry will not be affected by a proposed methane fee included in the bill. (RELATED: Facebook Post Claims The U.S. Has The Fourth-Highest Poverty Rate In The World At 17.8%)

“The Build Back Better Act contains a proposal for a methane fee for petroleum and natural gas systems (see page 366),” said Erica York, an economist at the Tax Foundation, in an email to Check Your Fact. “Beginning in calendar year 2023, oil and natural gas producers would pay a fee of $1,500 for each metric ton of methane they emit that exceeds certain thresholds. This is not part of the bipartisan infrastructure package and is not a cattle or farm animal fee.”

Howard Gleckman, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center, agreed. “There is a proposed methane tax on oil and gas producers in President Biden’s Build Back Better Act, but there is no proposal for a similar tax of any size on agriculture,” Gleckman told Check Your Fact in an email.

The tweet’s claim appears to originate with a Sept. 22 op-ed from Republican Oklahoma Rep. Markwayne Mullin that claimed a methane tax included in the Build Back Better Act “is estimated to cost $6,500 per dairy cow, $2,600 per head of cattle, and $500 per swine each year.” Mullin’s figures stem from an analysis of the tax conducted by the American Farm Bureau Federation, according to Agri-Pulse.

American Farm Bureau Federation Vice President for Public Affairs Sam Kieffer said in a Sept. 30 statement that the analysis was conducted to determine the “potential impact if agriculture were to be included in legislation imposing such a tax.” In the statement, he noted that “the current language of the reconciliation bill does not impose a methane tax on agriculture.”

Mullin’s spokeswoman later told Tulsa World that the op-ed was hypothetical. “This 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,” the spokeswoman said.

Trevor Schakohl, Elias Atienza



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