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Farmers want changes as climate bill goes to Senate
Buckeye Farm News
Saying that it could reduce net farm income by more than $5 billion over the next 10 years, Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF) President Brent Porteus recently told a panel of lawmakers that farmers were concerned about cap and trade legislation passed by the U.S. House.
Under a cap and trade program, the government would set limits on carbon emissions. Companies would then buy or sell permits based on the amount of carbon they produce.
During the American Energy Solutions Group summit, Porteus said the bill will impose enormous constraints on the Ohio economy, including Ohio agriculture, resulting in a net cost to farmers across the state. The cost of fuel, fertilizer and electricity are expected to increase as a result of the proposed legislation.
Porteus said the bill clearly ignores the principles that Ohio farmers identified as critical to the future of agriculture. Among them is that the legislation does not plug the hole created by lost energy sources.
“Cap and trade, and its artificial mechanisms, creates the shortages but does not provide the replacements,” he said.
Porteus also said that it would be a critical policy failure if the U.S. Congress adopted an aggressive program to curb carbon emissions without similar commitments from other countries such as China and Brazil. American Farm Bureau has said increased costs would provide an incentive for U.S. companies to relocate overseas.
Farm Bureau believes any bill must also recognize and support the benefits that agriculture and farmers can provide by creating an offset program for farmers who implement practices that capture carbon.
“The inclusion of the offset program is not the complete answer because even with some of the things included in the current bill it doesn’t make economic sense,” Porteus said. “If participating depends a great deal on where you’re located, what you grow and how you operate, it won’t work for every farmer.”
He said Ohio farmers support a diversified energy portfolio that includes both renewable and fossil fuels and incorporates existing and emerging technologies.
Last month, hundreds of Ohioans rallied in Lima against the legislation, saying it would kill jobs, raise consumer costs and make America less competitive.
“Being high energy use customers, we’re very concerned about the bill and want to see a bill that’s more favorably written for Ohio’s farmers,” said Ohio Farm Bureau State Trustee Mike Schumm before he addressed the crowd.
He said the increased costs of electricity and fuel “is going to affect our bottom line greatly.”
Schumm also said that an offset program for agriculture is not a solution for the increased costs farmers will face.
“In my instance, we have a lot of livestock, so no-till isn’t always viable for us. And if we plant trees, we can’t grow the crops that we need to produce the grain to feed the livestock or feed the American public,” he said. “(The bill) is not enough to keep us going the way we need to go.”