Salty Food and Belching Cows Are Winners in Budget Deal

Farmers and ranchers came out smelling pretty Saturday in the massive $1.1 trillion spending bill on its way to the desk of President Obama even though they will not have to curb the emissions of their cows or report about the effect of said emissions on the environment.

And we’re not even talking about the Farm Bill.

Farmers and ranchers were spared having to report on pollution from manure in the $1.1 trillion U.S. spending bill on its way to President Obama, according to New York Times coverage.

The gift comes in the form of a provision that says the government cannot require farmers to report “greenhouse gas emissions from manure management systems,” the Times reported:

Nor can it require ranchers to obtain greenhouse gas permits for “methane emissions” produced by bovine flatulence or belching.

The spending bill requires the E.P.A. to withdraw a new rule defining how the Clean Water Act applies to certain agricultural conservation practices. It also prevents the Army Corps of Engineers from regulating farm ponds and irrigation ditches under the Clean Water Act.

“This is a major victory for farmers and ranchers, who consistently tell many of us that they are concerned about the potential of the E.P.A. and the Army Corps of Engineers’ overreach into their operations,” Representative Mike Simpson, Republican of Idaho, said.

Cow standing on top of an image of the earth

Meat and methane
Mike Licht,

In another food-related provision, the bill included a slap in the face to First Lady Michelle Obama’s push for higher nutrition standards by prohibiting the federal government from requiring less salt in school lunches and allow schools to obtain exemptions from whole-grain requirements for pasta and tortillas. “But they were a victory for food companies and some local school officials, who had sought changes in regulations that are taking effect over several years.”