Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has directed the Agriculture Department to revise a computerized forecasting model that showed that climate legislation passed by the House would make planting trees more lucrative than producing food, according to the Washington Times.
The latest USDA economic-impact study of the climate bill found that the legislation would profit farmers in the long term, but those profits would come mostly from higher crop prices as a result of incentives to plant more forests and thus reduce the amount of land devoted to food-producing crops.
Vilsack said the Forest and Agricultural Sector Optimization Model (FASOM), created by researchers at Texas A&M University, does not take into account other provisions in the House-passed bill, which would boost farmers’ income while they continue to produce food. Those omissions, he said, cause the model to overestimate the potential for increased forest planting.
Vilsack has directed USDA Chief Economist Joe Glauber to work with EPA to “undertake a review of the assumptions in the FASOM model, to update the model and to develop options on how best to avoid unintended consequences for agriculture that might result from climate change legislation.”