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It's a dirty job ... but somebody has to do it

This being the time of year when we count our blessings, exchange gifts and express our gratitude for the little things in life that bring us joy, it seems only appropriate that I take a moment today and share with you a present that recently just plopped into my lap.

Bovine manure.

No ... I’m not kidding you.

We were having dinner with friends recently, when they told us that in their roles as tax preparers they of course had to stay up on the minutiae of local, state and federal changes.

And that’s when the cow pie arrived for dessert.

Now, for those among us who are farmers or ranchers, this might be old news; but count me among those who had never heard that Oregon now offers a Bovine Manure Tax Credit.

I don’t know about you, but my first reaction upon hearing this was obvious — I thought of Paul Fattig.

Yes, the former occupier of this space ... now churning out books from somewhere off the beaten path in the Applegate ... must be driving poor Maureen crazy right about now with all the puns and wordplay he could have worked into a column centered around this not-so endangered feces.

But, I won’t go there so to speak.

Instead, we’ll just plunge into “Or. Admin. R. 603-020-0016,” which explains that the state offers producers and collectors a tax credit for each (sorry) “wet ton” of bovine manure that will be used to create biofuel.

Now wait a minute. What in the world is a cow, steer or bull — or any other bovine manure “producer” — going to do with a tax credit? And, while we’re at it, the concept of a bovine manure “collector” doesn’t exactly conjure a pretty picture.

(The less said about “wet tons,” the better.)

Investigating this further so you don’t have to, I clicked enough links on state websites to find myself staring at the Bovine Manure Tax Credit Calculator — yes, the Bovine ... Manure ... Tax ... Credit ... Calculator — a rather bland data file that asks you to pinch your No. 2 pencils to figure out the pounds per day each animal produces to determine the quarterly rate for which the “eligible manure” can be credited.

It’s too bad that Knickers doesn’t live in Oregon.

Knickers, for those of you who have better things to do with your lives than follow viral topics on the internet, is a Holstein living the Life of Riley on a farm in Australia. He stands 6-foot-4 and weighs roughly 2,800 pounds.

Imagine OK, no, don’t.

Biofuel use from animal waste isn’t anything new, of course. A consultancy firm called 3Degrees works with companies such as airlines to create carbon offsets for the emissions they dump into the atmosphere.

Companies then invest their profits from, say, producing biogas from turning cow manure into environmentally friendly projects such as wind farms.

Meanwhile over the week of Thanksgiving, National Public Radio reported on a program in Israel that roasts or stews a portion of the world’s annual 938 million metric tons of poultry splat into a form of not-so-clean coal to fuel power plants.

Oregonians, of course, have never been the sort to find ourselves squirming over whether to sit or get off the pot (Hi, Paul!) when it comes to the alchemy of finding green uses for materials of another color — and we’re not afraid to call it as we see it, either.

Which is why we call it a Bovine Manure Tax Credit instead of masking it under a generic title such as New Mexico’s “Agricultural Biomass Tax Credit,” Nevada’s “Recycling Property Tax Abatement” or Arizona’s “Renewable Energy Production Credit.”

Talk about trying to polish a turd.

As far as I could research before my eyes started watering, there is no national credit (or abatement) for the production of cow, steer or bull manure — although, if there were, it might be the most credible explanation yet for the president’s refusal to release his tax returns.

The United States has, however, stuck its nose into a tangential issue. Last month, the Food and Drug Administration approved a drug designed to reduce ammonia-based gas emissions from cattle.

“Ammonia gas emissions are a concern,” our government said in an official statement, “because they have been implicated in atmospheric haze and noxious odors.”

So here’s the methane of this madness. On one hand, the administration is filled with people whose “high level of intelligence” leads them to deny the impacts of climate change. On the other hand, they’re doing their best to rid our “record clean” air from the dangers of cow farts.

Nope wait excuse me my mistake. Cow farts have only been “implicated” in producing disturbing haze and odors.

After the FDA’s public relations people released their BS statement, I hope they were flushed with pride — then got to their feet and wiped their hands of the entire mess.

If you believe that Mail Tribune columnist Robert Galvin has missed the obvious irony herein, email rgalvin@rosebudmedia.com.

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