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Climate change, water bills pose threat
Buckeye Farm News
Despite an amendment to improve the measure for agriculture, Farm Bureau believes climate change legislation approved by the U.S. House still falls short.
It’s a “seriously flawed” bill, according to American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) President Bob Stallman, who said, “this may be the most important legislation considered in the 111th Congress.”
The bill passed the House by a narrow margin (219-212) and seeks to curtail greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent by 2020 and up to 80 percent by 2050.
An amendment by Collin Peterson, D-Minn., exempted agriculture and forest sectors from the reduction requirements, and developed an offset program under the Department of Agriculture instead of the Environmental Protection Agency.
“We appreciate Congressmen Zack Space, D-Ohio, and Peterson for their work to improve the bill for agriculture,” said Ohio Farm Bureau Senior Director of Legislative and Regulatory Policy Adam Sharp. “However, despite efforts, not enough was achieved to balance out the costs with benefits for Ohio farmers.”
Farm Bureau opposes the House bill as passed for a number of reasons, including that it increases costs of fuel, fertilizer and energy. AFBF economic analysis shows that, at a minimum, net farm income will decline by $5 billion annually by 2020 under the current proposal.
Without other countries in a similar agreement, the increased cost in production will put U.S. farms at an international disadvantage.
It also creates an “energy deficit” by curtailing the use of fossil fuels without any realistic alternative to make up for lost energy.
Sharp expects the Senate to start work on climate change this summer but isn’t expecting floor action until the fall. There is a significant group of Midwest senators, including Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, who are determined to address agriculture’s concerns. Sen. George Voinovich has also expressed a number of concerns with the legislation.
“We are certainly spending a lot of time talking to the Senate,” Sharp said. “We hope for a very different bill to be the result.”
A U.S. Senate committee also recently voted for a bill which amends the Clean Water Act by replacing the term “navigable waters” with “waters of the United States.” Farm Bureau believes this would leave no water unregulated in the United States, impacting even standing water from rain in a dry area. Farm Bureau also believes it would extraordinarily expand federal jurisdiction, giving the government inordinate control over private property, while opening the door for activists to sue landowners whose activities they don’t like.