Extras on Excise: With Growing Environmental Concerns, Could Taxing Meat Be Next?

Meat Taxes

The possibility of taxing meat in the future may not seem so far-fetched after taxes on sugar sweetened beverage products and carbon at the local level have started spreading across the nation to raise revenue, improve public health, and benefit the environment. It follows that taxes on animal food products may be the next type of “sin” tax aimed at improving long-term health in Americans and reducing greenhouse gas emissions while raising revenue.

On Dec. 12, 2017, the Farm Animal Investment Risk and Return, an investor initiative, released a preliminary report warning that the enactment of the Paris Agreement may spur some governments to consider the idea of taxing meat and argued that a sin tax on meat is following a similar route as taxes on tobacco, sugar, and carbon.

Currently, the global livestock industry is responsible for about 14.5 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, with cattle causing about 65 percent of those emissions, according to the Food & Agriculture Organization. They also predict that global meat consumption will increase 70 percent by 2050.

These reports have persuaded some investors “to push companies to diversify into plant protein, or even suggest livestock producers use a ‘shadow price’ of meat—similar to an internal carbon price—to estimate future costs,” as first reported by Emily Chasan in the Daily Tax Report (subscription required).

Politicians in Denmark, Germany, and Sweden are campaigning for a tax on meat, eggs, and dairy products. However, there is currently no proposed meat tax legislation in the United States.

While it is unclear whether a meat tax will gain momentum in the United States, carbon taxes and taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages may continue to gain traction.

Continue the discussion on LinkedIn: Do you think that a tax on animal food products is likely in the United States?

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