Policy & Politics
Stallman Replies to Vitriolic Post Column
STALLMAN REPLIES TO VITRIOLIC POST COLUMN---American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman sent a letter to the editor of the Washington Post on Friday, responding to a vitriolic opinion piece by Post business columnist Steven Pearlstein criticizing Farm Bureau’s opposition to the massive climate change bill that narrowly passed the House late Friday. The full text of the letter is below:
“Washington Post columnist Steven Pearlstein clearly did not do his homework on how climate change regulations could impact food production in our nation (For the Farm Lobby, Too Much Is Never Enough, June 26). Name calling and insults about our work on behalf of America’s farm and ranch families is a poor substitute.
“Even considering the public investment America makes to ensure domestic food production, many farmers and ranchers today live on razor-thin margins. Any increased cost, regulatory or otherwise, comes directly out of that margin. Unlike most businesses, in our economic system most farmers simply cannot pass costs along. Make no mistake, even with potential offsets, the cost of proposed climate change regulations will, at a minimum, slash net farm income by $5 billion a year by 2020. We believe preserving America’s family-owned structure of food production deserves additional consideration.
“The proposed regulations also create an ‘energy deficit’ for the United States by curtailing the use of fossil fuels without supplying any immediate alternatives. Agriculture is an energy-intensive enterprise, but it also possesses the valuable ability to soak up the perils of carbon in our crops and soils. Our nation must not discount that fact or our farmers’ abilities to help fuel our nation with renewable and recycled energy from our crops, our livestock and the wind that blows across our land.
“Farmers want to be a part of the solution and it is Farm Bureau’s job to make sure any solution does not jeopardize their economic sustainability in the process. At a time when nations such as China show no sign of adopting similar provisions, instead pumping even more carbon into the atmosphere than any U.S. program could ever remove, the proposals currently before us offer only costly and empty solutions. If it is selfish to ask for additional consideration for the hard-working people who produce food for our nation, and who reap very little reward in the process, we stand guilty as charged, but we do not stand alone. In fact, even the Washington Post has editorialized, ‘…given that congressional action could set a template for years or decades, we think it’s too soon to settle for something that falls so far short of ideal.’”