Thursday, September 10, 2009

Climate Change Legislation

Storm clouds over wheat,near Ucon, Idaho--Putnam photo
Wheat Growers, American Farm Bureau Oppose Climate Change Legislation

Washington--The National Association of Wheat Growers' Board of Directors met by conference call last Friday to discuss pending climate change legislation.As part of that discussion, the panel voted 26 to 2 to approve a new resolution regarding greenhouse gas regulation.

The new resolution reads:"NAWG is opposed to greenhouse gas legislation or regulation that has a negative impact on production agriculture. NAWG will strive for a net economic benefit to farmers, agriculture and food production. We believe neither greenhouse gas regulation nor legislation should take effect until the major carbon emitting countries of the world have agreed to regulate their own greenhouse gases in a like manner to ours. NAWG urges USDA to do a detailed economic analysis of any legislation or regulation before it becomes law. Furthermore, NAWG will oppose EPA regulation and will work to overturn the Supreme Court ruling."

The board also voted 24 to 0 to remove existing resolutions relating to greenhouse gas regulation and an agriculture cap-and-trade program.In a statement, the group said it's staff and grower-leaders plan to continue to work on this issue to achieve an outcome that the board feels is in the best interest of grower-members.

The American Farm Bureau has spent the summer working on compromises to climate change legislation that would benefit the nation's farmers. American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman says the AFBF is strongly opposed to the Climate Bill for several reasons.

As written the bill imposes enormous costs on agriculture and other sectors of the economy; the cap-and-trade program would take effect whether or not competing nations like India and China adopted similar programs, meaning U.S. industries would have an incentive to locate overseas. It also provides no concrete alternative energy program, such as nuclear, to hold down energy costs; and, lastly, the measure would appear to have little or no impact on the climate, Stallman noted.

“Most recently, the administrator of EPA testified before the Senate that the H.R. 2454 would have a negligible impact on temperature by the year 2050,” said Stallman. “And virtually everyone agrees that the U.S. alone can’t solve the problem.”

AFBF contends that reducing carbon emissions must be a shared, global responsibility. Without other countries doing their part to lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, H.R. 2454 will never work. Stallman noted that while the United States may be a large emitter of GHGs, if emissions are measured based on unit of output, the U.S. is one of the cleanest producers. The effect of HR 2454, Stallman pointed out, would be to punish environmentally sound practices while letting others off the hook.

“A ton of GHG emitted in China is the same as a ton of GHG emitted in Virginia,” said Stallman. “Regulating emissions in Virginia without regulating emissions in China will have little or no effect on the environment.”

AFBF also maintains that an agricultural offsets program administered by the Agriculture Department is an essential cost containment measure, but revenues from offsets will only partially defray increased costs and not all agriculture sectors will benefit from offset opportunities.

“Inclusion of an offset program is not the complete answer,” said Stallman. “Even with a robust agricultural offset program, the bill still does not make economic sense for producers because a number of sectors will be not able to participate.”

Participating in an offset program will depend to a great degree on where the producer is located, what he or she grows and if his or her business can take advantage of the program, Stallman noted. Not every dairy farmer can afford to capture methane. Not every farmer lives in a region where wind turbines are an option. Not every farmer can take advantage of no-till. And not every farmer has the land to set aside to plant trees, according to Stallman.

“Yet, these producers will incur the same increased fuel, fertilizer and energy costs as their counterparts who can benefit from the offsets market,” said Stallman.

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