Farm Bureau officials warn about proposed EPA rules

FARGO, N.D. -- "We oppose cap-and-trade programs, such as the Leiberman-Warner bill, and other types of hidden environmental taxes on energy." Officially, that's as far as North Dakota Farm Bureau policy goes on the topic of greenhouse gas emissi...

FARGO, N.D. -- "We oppose cap-and-trade programs, such as the Leiberman-Warner bill, and other types of hidden environmental taxes on energy."

Officially, that's as far as North Dakota Farm Bureau policy goes on the topic of greenhouse gas emission rules, and that's what the state organization will forward to the American Farm Bureau Federation for consideration at the national level.

But the hottest topic at the annual convention and trade show Nov. 20 to 23 in Fargo, N.D., went beyond that, to pending rules in the Environmental Protection Agency that would impose new costs on livestock and other farmers.

North Dakota Farm Bureau President Eric Aasmundstad and Don Parrish, American Farm Bureau Federation senior director for regulatory relations, sounded new warnings about greenhouse gas emissions standards that will have severe repercussions in the United States. Using the Clean Air Act as the vehicle for regulation, carbon output would be restricted to 100 tons of emission per year. That threshold is large enough for those emitters originally targeted by the CAA. The act, amended in 1990, did not include greenhouse gas standards.

Aasmundstad and Parrish say there are thousands of entities that emit more than 100 tons of greenhouse gas per year, including small businesses, industry, restaurants, churches, hotels, schools and even homes.


Agriculture will be one of the hardest-hit industries, Aasmundstad says.

Emission fees

The organization summarized the EPA's proposed regulations this way.

A farm with more than 25 milk cows, 50 beef cattle or 200 hogs would have to acquire a permit and pay a fee of $45 per ton of greenhouse gas in excess of the 100 tons per year.

Here are calculations:

n Dairy: The average dairy in North Dakota has 167.6 cows, he says. After the first 25 "free" cows are allowed, 142.6 cows would be assessed at about $175 per cow ($45 per ton). That's a whopping $24,995 per dairy farm per year, he says.

n Beef: The state average beef cow herd is 162.4 cows. The first 50 are "free." An $85 per-cow fee would be assessed against the rest, or $9,520.

n Pork: The average hog farm in the state has 320.6 hogs. The first 200 are "free," and the rest are charged $22.50 per hog or pig. This would cost an extra $301 per year.



Permits also would apply to corn crops covering more than 500 acres. It would apply to farm equipment, all-terrain vehicles, lawnmowers, boats and motorcycles. It would add automatic engine stop-start systems to reduce idling, eliminate two-stroke engines and switch to four-strokes. Delegates also are concerned with a proposed National Heritage Area system. The bill would create a National Heritage Area system, tying all previously approved and future National Heritage Areas together, effectively establishing federal zoning under the guise of protecting America's cultural, natural and recreational resources.

It also would codify the National Landscape Conservation System, permanently locking up millions of acres of land such as wild and scenic areas, wilderness areas, national monuments, and scenic and historic trails. This would place conservation and preservation of these areas above "multiple use" of the land. Using overly broad terms such as "values," the bill could lead to protection of "view-sheds" or "smell-scapes."

Maintaining agriculture zoning for animal agriculture was addressed by the delegates, and that ag zoning should not be held to a higher standard than zoning for industrial or municipal uses.

Parrish says farmers have done more to help the environment than hurt it in the the past 60 years.

"Compared to 1948, across all production in agriculture, animals produce 25 percent less manure," he says. "At the same time, each animal we raise produces 700 percent more meat than it did in 1948."

He says if the word "sustainability" locks away farming into "certain technologies," it will "hurt the ability to feed ourselves."

Delegates also came out in strong support of property tax relief and reform for all North Dakota citizens and made it a priority for the upcoming North Dakota Legislature.


Convention highlights

Among other things at the convention:

Doyle Johannes of Underwood, N.D., was elected vice president of the farm bureau, replacing Doug Goehring. Goehring was not eligible to serve the final year of a two-year term because the bylaws limit board members to three three-year terms. Johannes represents District 6, including Bottineau, McHenry, McLean, Renville, Sheridan and Ward counties. He and his wife, Patsy, have a diversified small grains and row crop farm, and a custom-background feedlot.

Newly elected board members elected were Wes Klein of Hazen, N.D., and Carson Kouba of Regent, N.D. Delegates re-elected Dan Delahoyde of Cogswell, N.D.

n David Strand, of Kindred, N.D., and Jim Lee of Max, N.D., were re-elected to the state farm bureau PAC.

n Darren Olafson and Scott Ault won the "Farmer Idea Exchange" competition for "Slow-N-Tell" -- an "instinctive brake lighting system" for semis.

n Ethan Bender of Goodrich, N.D., won a $1,200 scooter in a raffle that raised $6,000. Other prize winners were Luke Anderson of Fargo; Sheila Faul of McClusky, N.D.; Brent Engebretson of Velva, N.D.; and Bruce Knudson of Bottineau, N.D.

n In the state "Activities of Excellence" competition, Grand Forks County Farm Bureau took top honors for a successful campaign against county Home Rule.


n Joyce Anderson of Velva, was elected to the state Promotion and Education Committee. Re-elected were Kimberly Lemieux of Rolette, N.D., and Phyllis Delahoyde of Cogswell.

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