Taxpayer-subsidized manure digesters stimulate factory farm pollution

What is the latest taxpayer-subsidized economic stimulus scheme?

By John Kinsman

Why, manure digesters on factory farms, of course!

At the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen last December, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack unveiled plans to promote manure digesters as a way to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent. The trick is that you have to be a factory farm to qualify.

In his State of the State address in January, Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle announced his latest round of tax credits for factory farm expansion, including a whopping $6.6 million for two manure digesters in Dane County catering to just a handful of mega-dairies. Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk has also been pushing for $1 million in her budget for these digesters.

The real tragedy is that manure digesters actually make global warming worse while “solving” a manure problem that would not even exist if cows were allowed to graze on pasture rather than being confined indoors. As Paris Reidhead documents in the January 2010 issue of the Milkweed, methane is 21 times as bad as carbon dioxide when it comes to causing global warming, and this methane threat largely stems from factory farms that store liquid manure in lagoons under anaerobic conditions. In contrast, utilizing manure as compost under aerobic conditions reduces the “carbon footprint” of dairy cows by over 90 percent.

Read more at The Capitol Times.

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