Following President Biden’s signing of the Inflation Reduction Act, many progressives are upset over the fact there are no provisions in the new bill to create a new tax to target, of all things, consumption of meat.
"Rearing livestock & crops to feed them has destroyed more tropical forest & killed more wildlife than any other industry…Our research found that a meat tax implemented correctly need not increase pressure on poorer households—or the farming industry." https://t.co/EvMyHrGdSE— A Well-Fed World (@AWellFedWorld) August 16, 2022
Democrats and progressives have been building the narrative around meat consumption’s contribution to climate change for quite some time. (remember AOC’s claim about farting cows?) After the signing of the Inflation Reduction Act, they are upset to find that only five percent of the money in the bill will be devoted to changing farming practices.
According to researchers though, taxes on meat products could go as high as 56 percent for beef, 25 percent for poultry, and 19 percent for lamb and pork. That is quite a tax increase.
Biden pushed through many of his policy goals through the whopping $740 billion law, which includes $369 billion in climate change initiatives. The hefty package also includes billions in new taxes that the federal government will collect from businesses and the middle working class with an inflated IRS SWAT team.
Vox reporter Kenny Torrella wrote, “Even though the money to cut emissions from agriculture is misplaced, the strategy — hand out money to do the right thing rather than penalize polluters for doing the wrong thing — is politically smart, and in keeping with the bill’s carrot rather than stick approach to energy,” said Torella. “Just like the environmental movement had for decades, the effort to shift our meat-centric food system to a more plant-based one has historically focused on the stick approach: suing farms for pollution, banning the cage confinement of hens and pigs, and even floating the concept of a tax on meat consumption.”
Researchers with the University of Berlin and the University of Oxford have also weighed in on the subject suggesting that “Part of the tax revenue could finance subsidies for growing vegetables, grains and alternative proteins, or help low-income households meet their food bills on a more regular basis. Just as meat and dairy must become more expensive, healthy and sustainable plant-based foods should become more affordable.”
However, some researchers have no problem penalizing meat eaters. Henry Dimbleby, the lead non-executive board member of the United Kingdom’s Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs, told The Guardian that a meat tax would help prevent the “incredibly inefficient use of land” allegedly caused by livestock production.
Land used for agriculture in the UK can be reduced by up to 74 per cent by the population going vegan. The UK's hunger for meat, dairy, eggs and fish is leading to environmental collapse #EatingTheEarth— Viva! (@vivacampaigns) August 22, 2022
Thank you for speaking up about this @HenryDimbleby https://t.co/elQHedpmrQ pic.twitter.com/sTbbBj2yOC
“If we fail on this,” Dimbleby said, “we will fail to meet our biodiversity or climate goals in this country”. Dimbleby suggested that we have a great opportunity here to show worldwide leadership by leading by example and showing the rest of the world how we can achieve farm sustainability and feed people at the same time. But not everyone wants to eat burgers, hot dogs, and ribs made from plants.
For many Americans who don’t follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, meat is the primary source of protein and is the core of a healthy diet for most of us. A study in Austria in 2014 by The Medical University of Graz provided evidence that people following a meat-enriched diet lived healthier lives overall. A tax on meat could hinder sustainable farming and cause irreparable damage to the industry, which might be the objective here.