AFA in the Washington Post

AFA in the Washington Post

May 4, 2021 at 1:53 p.m. PDT

Stephanie Feldstein’s April 30 Friday Opinion essay, “Biden isn’t trying to cut meat consumption. But he should.,” suggested that national climate policies should promote lowering meat consumption. Agree or not, there’s no need for intrusive or drastic measures. The Agriculture Department could simply level the playing field with agricultural subsidies and let consumers decide.

In 2020, the USDA disproportionately subsidized the production of foods that emit the most greenhouse gases. USDA and Environmental Protection Agency reports reveal that rice, beef, dairy and pork producers were subsidized with an estimated $800 to $1,400 per ton of methane emitted. Considering subsidies that reduced animal feed costs as well, the range stretches to $2,600 per ton.

Though some may propose methane digesters, feed supplements or carbon credit swaps to reduce climate impacts, the USDA should prioritize its spending on proven mitigation methods, such as helping farmers transition to producing more climate-friendly commodities.

It is foolish for taxpayer dollars to favor high greenhouse gas producers when providing greater consumer access to low greenhouse gas foods is a simple, cost-effective way to empower Americans to reduce the climate impact of the agriculture industry.

Laura Reese, Campbell, Calif.

The writer is executive director and co-founder of the Agriculture
Fairness Alliance.