At Missouri Farm Bureau, we’ve talked extensively for more than two years about the global climate agenda and how activists continue to miss the big picture. Every United Nations, European Union, and Biden Administration meeting seems to focus on the “climate crisis” and ways to save the human race. Now, it seems we’ve entered a new phase of the global climate agenda – animal sacrifice, and Europe is leading the way.
The Irish government has proposed the large-scale slaughter of their cattle herd – culling 65,000 cows a year for three years, effectively reducing their national dairy herd by 10 percent. The European Union recently approved a plan to spend more than $1.5 billion to close farms and eliminate a significant portion of the Netherlands’ livestock herd in an effort to reduce emissions. You really can’t make this stuff up.
Until recently, the Netherlands was hailed as a tremendous agricultural success and model. During World War II, the Netherlands suffered a horrific famine where more than 20,000 people died during the Nazi occupation. In response, they invested heavily in agricultural production and efficiency, and have become one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world. In spite of having just about one percent of the EU’s farmland, the Netherlands produces six percent of the EU’s food.
While we may not think it’s a good idea for the EU to slaughter their own livestock and forcibly close their farms, I suppose it is their prerogative. However, here’s the kicker. Not only do the EU’s plans impact their own producers – they are seeking to impose new standards on global trade. A proposal put forward by the European Commission, the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD), would require companies to demonstrate what action they are taking to protect the environment. If adopted, the CSDDD would introduce requirements for companies to identify, prevent, or end the impact of their activities on the environment. If you’re a farmer in Missouri, that should raise your eyebrows, considering Missouri exported more than $112 million worth of agricultural products to the EU in 2022.
Here at home, the Biden Administration’s “all-of-government” approach to climate change is charging full speed ahead. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is getting into the big-government climate solutions game as well, through its proposed rules requiring publicly-traded companies to report climate-related risks. These proposed rules would even trickle down to the farm and ranch gate by requiring a company’s upstream and downstream value chain to report data to the SEC, creating huge compliance and data privacy concerns for the agricultural sector.
The untold story is that America’s farmers and ranchers are producing more food using fewer resources than ever before. Over the last seventy years, US agricultural productivity has increased by 175% and land use fell by 28%. According to an analysis by the American Farm Bureau Federation, American beef producers have increased their production by 23 percent while decreasing emissions by 15 percent per animal. According to the EPA, in 2018, voluntary land management practices alone removed 764 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. That’s equivalent to taking 165 million vehicles off the road for approximately one year. In my opinion, the greatest steward of the land and the true conservationist is the American farmer. American producers have used innovation to leave their farms better than they found it for generations. That’s a story we are proud of and one policymakers should understand before handing down directives that could take farms and ranches out of production, reduce global food security, and jeopardize global trade.
Franz Timmermans, Vice-President of the European Union (EU) Commission, stated in 2021 that, “If we don’t fix [climate change], our children will be waging wars over water and food. There is no doubt in my mind.” For my part, I have no doubt that Mr. Timmermans believes he is on a noble crusade. But, the fact that he and other climate activists believe sacrificing Europe’s livestock herd will improve food security is misguided and truly frightening.