Buckeye Farm News
Congress is currently debating national climate change legislation that could put American agriculture at a global competitive disadvantage.
According to American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman, both the already-passed House version of the climate change bill and the currently proposed Senate version attempt to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) through a “cap-and-trade” program that would bring higher fuel and fertilizer costs to U.S. farmers and ranchers.
The House bill would require GHGs to be cut by 17 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels, while the current version of the bill in the Senate would increase that figure to 20 percent. That’s a level Stallman said is unrealistic.
According to a recent report announced by Sens. Kit Bond, R-Mo., and Kay Bailey Hutchinson, R-Texas, America’s farmers and ranchers would be hit with $550 million in higher fuel costs in 2020 and $1.65 billion in 2050 if the House climate change legislation is passed.
“We oppose the current bill as it stands,” said Ohio Farm Bureau Senior Director of Legislative and Regulatory Policy Adam Sharp. “But we’re hopeful that Ohio Senators George Voinovich and Sherrod Brown can help make major changes that lessen its negative impacts and allow a broad set of programs for farmers to get credit for their sound environmental practices that remove greenhouse gases from the air.” Sharp also said current legislation limits farmers who can enroll in the program.
“It seems unlikely the bill will get passed out of the full Senate this year, but the administration and Congressional Democrat leaders would like to see it out of committee before the international climate change meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark this December,” Sharp said.
He said passing legislation prior to an international agreement would be similar to putting the cart before the horse. “We don’t want to shackle our farmers with higher fuel and energy prices and put them in a reduced competitive global environment where other countries might not have similar emission restrictions.”
If passed through committee by the December meeting, Sharp said to expect the full Senate to consider climate change legislation in early 2010.
Extended photo caption: OFBF members signed 5, 258 postcards that will be delivered to lawmakers expressing opposition to legislation relating to climate change and the Clean Water Act. Proposed climate legislation has included restrictions that are expected to raise energy costs for Americans and could increase the price of farm inputs. Another proposed bill would expand the authority of the Clean Water Act from “navigable’ waters to all waters. This could extend the reach of the federal government to farm ponds, ditches and streams. OFBF will continue to voice farmers’ concerns with these measures.
Advisory Council Questions: In what ways do you feel proposed climate change legislation can either hurt or help farmers? Share your answers on the Ohio Farm Bureau Advisory Discussion Board.