Climate Change: New Zealand to tax cow burp and pee

On an average, a cow releases something between 150 to 250 pounds of methane (68 – 113 kilograms) into the atmosphere every year. New Zealand says the money raised from the proposed taxes would be pumped back into the industry to finance new technologies and research

Staff Correspondent

October 12

The New Zealand government, in its efforts to tackle climate change, is planning to tax the cow burp and peeing. The proposed plan has triggered unrest in the farming community of the country.

The New Zealand government proposed taxing the greenhouse gases that farm animals make from burping and peeing as part of a plan to tackle climate change. 

What is Cow Burping? 

Most farm animals like cows are ruminants, having a complex digestive system. The grass and feed these animals eat, first gets fermented within their bodies. As a result they produce methane – a major greenhouse gas – as a by-product. However this gas needs to be belched out by these animals and the process is called burping. On an average, a cow produces something between 150 to 250 pounds of methane (68 – 113 kilograms) every year. 

So when a cows burp, they release bursts of  methane into the atmosphere. The methane traps heat from the sun more than 20 times as efficiently as carbon dioxide.

To tackle climate change, scientists and different  governments are trying to find out ways to reduce the environmental footprint of these belching bovines.

New Zealand first to tax cow burping

Sharing details about the plan, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told reporters that the money raised from the proposed levy will be pumped back into the industry to finance new technologies, research and incentive payments for farmers.

“New Zealand’s farmers are set to be the first in the world to reduce agricultural emissions, positioning our biggest export market for the competitive advantage that brings in a world increasingly discerning about the provenance of their food,” she told reporters while announcing the proposals from a farm in Wairarapa.

The pricing of the proposed levy on cow burping and peeing has not yet been decided but the government says that farmers should be able to make up the cost of the tax by charging more for climate friendly produce.

Farmers not happy

The proposed tax has seen the New Zealand farming community up against the government and condemnations have started pouring in. Criticising the proposed tax,  farmers said it prompt many of them to sell up.

Federated Farmers national president Andrew Hoggard told media that  the plan will “rip the guts out of small town New Zealand”, leading to farms making way for trees.

He added that the body was “deeply unimpressed” with the government’s interactions with farmers while examining alternative proposals.

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