Hello and welcome back to the wonderful world of the Dogpound where the government is always working for your best interest. The current Administration has a “Biogas Roadmap,” part of an all –of-the-above approach to cut carbon pollution which will ensure “a cleaner, more stable environment for future generations [this is government-speak in case you did not recognize it]. At this point I am sure your interest has peaked as to what a “Biogas Roadmap” might be… Well, in short it is an attempt to control methane generated by cow flatulence. That is not a typo!
They want to reduce cow gas 25 percent by the year 2020. To find out how this will work we joined Mr. Smith, a third generation dairy farmer at his home as he discussed his options with the visiting EPA representative. “Mr. Smith, you have several options to help your government create a friendlier environment for generations to come,” said Mr. EPA. “The first option is that you reduce your herd from 200 cows to 150 cows…25 percent reduction straight off the top.”
Mr. Smith tugs at his John Deere hat and responds, “Mr. EPA, the dairy business is a tough business, we don’t make a lot of money off of each cow, and those 50 cows would essentially eliminate my profit margin. No cows, no profit, and soon no Mr. Smith dairy farmer, while prices for milk and dairy products increase dramatically.”
“Well, OK, let’s consider this Mr. Smith,” the agent replied as he flipped his hand chart to page two. “In this scenario you feed your cows a very special type of feed that is blended with bio-agents that will combine with the methane gas and convert it into a non-threatening gas. Sort of like your trucks catalytic converter.”
Mr. Smith studies the chart and the spreadsheet showing the cost of the special feed and monitoring devices necessary to ensure discharges are within the new government regulation guidelines. He strokes his two day old beard and replies, “Well Mr. EPA, that is fine and dandy. However, your charts show that my feed cost will double, not counting the cost of the monitors that have to be installed to measure the air quality of my dairy cows. I also see that none of these bio-agents have been cleared by the FDA.”
“Mr. Smith I see you have an eye for detail,” said Mr. EPA. He quickly flips his charts to option three. “Now Mr. Smith this is our most popular option. You house all of your cows inside.”
“Inside the barn all the time?” snorts Mr. Smith as he leans back in his chair in disbelief.
“Yes sir. That way all the gas from your cows can be collected through a special vacuum system and channeled to a special condenser,” said Mr. EPA. “This condenser will refine and condense the methane so it can be used as energy to run a turbine which will in turn provide power to run your farm. A complete environmental closed-loop system.”
Mr. Smith leans in close to the EPA representative and in a low but controlled voice replies: “It says here [jabbing his finger at the chart] that the dollar investment cost three times more than what my farm is now worth, and in the end this will not produce enough energy to run my farm, so I will still have to purchase electricity. Plus, which the EPA seems to have forgotten, this will increase the cost of dairy products to the point where folks will not be able to afford them, thus driving even more dairy farmers out of business.”
The EPA representative closes his little flip -chart manual, puts it inside his expensive leather brief case, and with a big smile says, “Mr. Smith, you are indeed a smart man.
Now you get the big picture. I will be back next week to see which option you chose to proceed with, and as an extra service to you I will bring your banker along…you know…just in case you decide you might want to sell something. Have a good day.”
Well, another option, I would like to venture, is that they put little Bic lighters on the cow’s tail and just ignite the flatulence as it appears. Essentially Fourth of July fireworks every day at no extra cost. Not so sure how the cows would like it; however, it is important to remember that once the cow’s gas problem is resolved, we will be next in line to be fixed. Don’t say you have not been warned!
That is a wrap. As always be good, play safe and remember to stay away from the bean soup.
JR and Max