The Montana Farm Bureau has strongly voiced opposition to a petition filed with the Montana Public Service Commission (PSC) to require the consideration of greenhouse gases in utility rates. The petition filed by the Montana Environmental Information Center along with 41 other groups directs the Commission to consider “social cost of greenhouse gases” into rates for electric and natural gas service affectively creating a carbon tax. The Montana Farm Bureau is the state’s largest agricultural organization with more than 20,000 member families. 

“Our membership opposes carbon taxes on agricultural inputs including energy. Energy is an important input on many agricultural operations especially for things like irrigation,” said MFBF Executive Vice President Scott Kulbeck in a letter to the PSC.  “Reliable and affordable energy is important for Montana’s farmers and ranchers to produce safe and reliable food on tight budgets.”  

Kulbeck noted that Farm Bureau members have clearly stated that an additional tax or charge does not help but will harm Montana agriculture. The average farm income in 2022 was $46,889 according to the U.S. Ag Statistics cited in the Montana Department of Agricultural February Newsletter; this is nearly $20,000 less than the average household income in Montana according to U.S. Census data.  

“Such an extreme income gap has a tangible and measurable impact on Montana farmers and ranchers,” said Kulbeck. “The proposed rule will increase input costs and will not lower stress, improve resiliency or allow farmers and ranchers to make investments in their operation to adapt as needed in the future.” 

More than ten percent of Montana farms and ranchers already voluntarily use renewable energy. “Our membership has expressed their appreciation of incentive-based programs that promote the responsible use of resources rather than imposing mandates, fees and taxes,” Kulbeck said. “Rates for reliable electricity will skyrocket under a PSC carbon tax. We strongly oppose this petition.”