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Woodall: Green New Deal provides another example of vague climate plan

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

On Feb. 7, freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) introduced a bill known as the “Green New Deal.” The bill is a non-binding resolution aimed solving climate change challenges. 

Ocasio-Cortez represents New York’s 14th Congressional District, which covers the Bronx and Queens in New York City, and her staffers told The Guardian the plan “sets a goal to get to net-zero, rather than zero emissions, at the end of this 10-year plan because we aren’t sure that we will be able to fully get rid of, for example, emissions from cows or air travel before then.”

Inside the resolution

“The question we’re all asking right now is, what does this mean for cattle producers,” asked the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Colin Woodall. “When we take the time to look through this Green New Deal resolution, it doesn’t say much at all. It’s pretty general and open-ended ideas where they want to eliminate greenhouse gases – or otherwise want to eliminate life on this planet. There’s not a whole lot of detail.” 

Woodall cautioned cattle producers against wholesale approval or disproval of anything that comes out of Washington, D.C., noting bills are often like used cars.

“We have to do much more than just kick the tires when we’re buying used cars,” he described. “We better open up the hood, see what the details are and make sure the thing really runs.” 

“The Green New Deal doesn’t tell us anything and that’s our concern,” Woodall continued. “We continue to see efforts in Congress and from other places that talk about greenhouse gases and climate change at a very high level in general details. When we talk about something so important, we need to see details so we can understand what the impacts will be to our industry and to industry in general in the United States.” 

More details

Ed Frank, NCBA communications specialist, added the resolution epitomizes a left-wing, Democratic Socialist ideal but with very few specifics, so NCBA developed a list of questions that need to be answered before the Green New Deal can be truly vetted. 

“We got questions from the press, but we asked them what they wanted us to respond to. There were no specific policy proposals in the Green New Deal,” Frank explained. “We put out a list of questions that we hope reporters, citizens, producers and everyone can ask before they decide whether something is good or bad.”

The list includes questions about what specific policies are included, what the cost of those policies are and what the actual impact will be on global temperatures, along with how that impact was calculated. 

“When we see proposals like the Green New Deal, they’re all the same. They make big, overarching claims and talk about how we’re going to turn ourselves into a utopian society,” Woodall added, “but what they fail to do is give any details or economic impact.” 

Cattle industry interface
Woodall continued, “We stepped back and, instead of trying to defend our industry against this resolution, we said, ‘You guys haven’t done enough work yet. If you want a discussion, we need to know more so we can have a true debate.’”

In addition to details on how much something costs, how it will impact beef production and more, Woodall said economic analysis is also necessary. 

“The economic analysis also needs to come from credible economists who can show their math, as we like to say,” he said. “We need to be able to look at the numbers and understand how they got there.” 

“Given the data we have compiled for years, we have a great story to tell about what the ag industry has done to cut back our carbon footprint, cut back on greenhouse gases and produce more beef with fewer cattle than we did 30 years ago,” Woodall emphasized. “Those efficiencies are going to continue as we learn more and as science and technology can be utilized and applied to the U.S. beef industry.” 

Saige Albert, managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup, wrote this article from a Feb. 10 edition of “Beltway Beef.” Send comments on this article to

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