is part of the Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

  • American Agriculturist
  • Beef Producer
  • Corn and Soybean Digest
  • Dakota Farmer
  • Delta Farm Press
  • Farm Futures
  • Farm Industry news
  • Indiana Prairie Farmer
  • Kansas Farmer
  • Michigan Farmer
  • Missouri Ruralist
  • Nebraska Farmer
  • Ohio Farmer
  • Prairie Farmer
  • Southeast Farm Press
  • Southwest Farm Press
  • The Farmer
  • Wallaces Farmer
  • Western Farm Press
  • Western Farmer Stockman
  • Wisconsin Agriculturist

Gassy cows and greenhouse government

According to, the longest human burp ever recorded lasted a bawdy 45 seconds and was witnessed by at least one person, who probably was ready to leave the room at the 5-second mark. While this is impressive, it apparently falls short in volatility to a cow burp.

The Environmental Protection Agency claims emissions from cows, including belches and other gassy releases, are responsible for almost 18 percent of the methane gas that escapes into the atmosphere. Methane gas, as we all have heard, is one of the major greenhouse gases contributing to climate change.

Recently the EPA announced that gas from cows and other farm animals is exempt from greenhouse gas legislation that Congress is considering. But they had us going there for a while. Several farm organizations were up in arms over concern that livestock operators might fall under the same rules and regulations as power plants and other greenhouse gas-producing factories. The Internet chat rooms got a little crazy, some derisively calling any legislation to regulate cow windiness a gas tax.

Can you imagine what livestock operators would be facing had things turned out differently? Through secret sources, I have uncovered some measures that our greenhouse government was actually considering. Warning, folks, you can’t make this stuff up.

Cow associates — Assigning one highly-trained person to each cow. This cow associate’s job would be to combust the methane gas as it was passed. Cows fitted with roller skates would then be propelled to new dining areas in a pasture without having to expend energy. This would create 160 million new jobs, however, the price of a Big Mac with cheese would increase from $1.99 to $1,999.99.

Gasometry — The government was thinking of spinning off a new science dedicated solely to measuring methane and other greenhouse gases and mitigating their release into the atmosphere. Aerial infrared photography of cow pastures could be used to generate so-called methane maps to pinpoint offenders. I wouldn’t pooh-pooh this concept, folks. It could still happen.

Gas cops — These silent but deadly inspectors would nose around the rural countryside for telltale odors and write citations for especially grievous gassiness.

Gas collection masks for cows — Determined to be not feasible because they would not allow the cow to eat, meaning the cow would have to be fed grass intravenously, which would require a phlebotomist, which … well, you get the idea.

Gas catchers on the other end of the cow — These bulky contraptions were found to often cause extreme back pressure deep inside the cow and occasionally, a catastrophic weather phenomenon known as hamburger rain.

Although the cow burp issue has now passed harmlessly into the atmosphere, the issue underscores what many in agriculture have come to fear about climate change legislation — if greenhouse gas doesn’t kill you, the cure surely will.


TAGS: Management
Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.