To meet the European Union’s goals of reducing carbon emissions by 50% by 2050, French researchers are proposing a whopping $247.83 per ton tax on carbon, methane and other greenhouse gases. The tax is targeted at the cattle industry and beef in particular as a direct tax on meat.
The idea of heavily taxing meat has broad support among environmental groups and other individuals who promote government coercion as a tactic for combating climate change, including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and Richard Conniff, a New York Times op-ed contributor with a new piece in support of the tax this week. They argue that because agricultural activities, such as raising cattle, are responsible for 14.5% of greenhouse gas emissions, governments across the globe must enact exorbitant “sin” taxes to make cattle-based goods too expensive for Americans to buy.
Not surprisingly, prices of common grocery items would skyrocket if meat tax proponents are successful. By their own admission, this targeted tax would increase beef prices by 41%, chicken by 32%, dairy by 26%, eggs by 23%, pork by 17%, and poultry by 15%. Rather than socially engineering consumer choices through regressive taxation, proponents should allow Americans to make their own grocery choices and focus on carbon-reducing and free market innovations in the marketplace instead.
The support for meat excise taxes on meat come at a time when similar excise taxes related to “public health” are being aggressively pushed across the country. In several cities, taxes on soda and other sweetened beverages been implemented, and taxes on snacks, fast food, and other disfavored foods are being considered.
Not surprisingly, these taxes result in higher prices, lost jobs, and do not reduce consumption of the products they target. For example, a soda tax enacted in Philadelphia caused 1,200 people to lose their jobs and did not significantly reduce consumption of soda. Instead, Philadelphians simply traveled to other cities to purchase their groceries, proving the results of the tax were to inconvenience consumers and cause others to lose their jobs. Currently, there are no estimates of how many people would lose their jobs if this tax went into effect.
Perhaps the most ridiculous aspect of this recent carbon scheme is the targeting of methane from cattle. In addition to producing greenhouse gases from feed transportation and agricultural machinery operation, a key source of methane from cattle is flatulence and belching as byproducts of the digestion process.
Essentially, the proposed meat tax is a tax on the digestion process of cows designed to cause the prices of everyday food items to skyrocket so lower and middle income Americans can no longer afford to purchase them.
Needless to say, Americans for Tax Reform is strongly opposed to any type of new meat or greenhouse gas tax and believes Americans should be able to choose which foods they eat without needless government intervention.