THE CLAIM: Under the proposed infrastructure bill, farmers would be taxed for each cow, including $6,500 a year for dairy cows.
THE FACTS: The infrastructure bill, a $1 trillion package that was approved in August by the Senate, does not include such a provision. Yet, in a tweet shared by thousands that also circulated on Facebook, a conservative commentator falsely claimed that the legislation would impose taxes on cows, which would cripple American agriculture.
“Just one example cattle farmers have to pay $2600 PER COW a year,” Melissa Tate wrote. “Dairy cows $6500 a year. This will put millions of cattle farmers out of business.”
Tate did not respond to a request for comment. The erroneous claim follows a congressman’s false assertion about a separate, $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill, referred to as the Build Back Better Act, that is supported by many Democrats.
In a statement criticizing that bill, Oklahoma Rep. Markwayne Mullin said the legislation “would impose a ‘fee’ on all methane emissions, including in our agriculture industry. … The tax is estimated to cost $6,500 per dairy cow, $2,600 per head of cattle, and $500 per swine each year.”
But, the reconciliation bill, as currently drafted, includes taxes on methane emissions relating to oil and gas production — not from livestock. A spokesperson for Mullin acknowledged that the bill does not currently contain those provisions.
“This is what could happen if the methane fee were applied to agriculture,” Meredith Blanford said in an email. She said that while the text of the bill only specifies the oil and gas industry, it also references the Environmental Protection Agency’s greenhouse gas inventory “and leaves too much room for the EPA to expand its regulatory reach.”
Blanford said the numbers were derived from an analysis by the American Farm Bureau Federation, a lobbying group. The organization’s vice president for public affairs, Sam Kieffer, said in a Sept. 30 statement that, over the summer, the group’s economists conducted an analysis of potential costs on agriculture using proposals relating to the methane tax on oil and gas.
“To clear up any confusion, I want to make clear that the current language of the reconciliation bill does not impose a methane tax on agriculture,” Kieffer said.