Bipartisan lawmakers float incentives to cut cow emissions

By Marc Heller | 03/27/2024 01:51 PM EDT

Democratic and Republican senators introduced a bill to boost research and offer farmers incentives to reduce cows’ greenhouse gas emissions.

A cow stands near a fan in a freestall barn after getting milked.

A cow after getting milked in July 2023 in New Vienna, Iowa. Cow emissions are a significant source of greenhouse gas. Charlie Neibergall/AP

A bipartisan group of lawmakers is proposing legislation to make dairy cows more climate-friendly.

Led by Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), four senators introduced a bill recently that could reward farmers for reducing methane emissions from their cattle and direct federal research more specifically toward cutting greenhouse gas from the animals.

The bill, titled the “EMIT LESS Act,” S. 4056 — short for the “Enteric Methane Innovation Tools for Lower Emissions and Sustainable Stock Act” — would establish a methane emissions testing capacity at the Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service and expand outreach to farmers.


It would also tweak two major USDA conservation programs to allow financial incentives for farmers who use practices shown to reduce the amount of methane cows produce. The programs are voluntary; other lawmakers including Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) have sought to prevent EPA from monitoring methane emissions from farms, for instance.