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Ag groups reject Waxman’s climate offer

Farm and commodity groups have rejected House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman’s latest attempt to drum up agricultural support for his cap-and-trade climate bill.In a meeting late Friday with four-dozen ag group leaders, Waxman and Congressman Ed Markey, the bill’s cosponsor, offered to allocate 5 Billion to 10 Billion Dollars over 10 years to a new USDA-managed program that would make payments to farmers for carbon-reduction activities approved by the EPA. The EPA would then issue offset credits to USDA to be sold, with all proceeds reinvested in the compensation program. But, National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson says that’s NOT what the ag community wants,”We are concerned about adding a heavy load, an additional distribution mechanism and maybe a whole new bureaucratic function on top of a USDA that’s already struggling with the ability to timely deliver services.”

Johnson says they want USDA in charge with its scientists deciding what’s eligible. But, he says, “We don’t want USDA or EPA to be determining the value. We want the market place to do that.”
Johnson says Ag is being treated as an afterthought in the climate change bill. Ag Committee Chairman Collin Peterson called for the meeting and has been pushing for a prominent role for agriculture in climate legislation. In its present form, Johnson predicts the bill will NOT pass the House.

A source who attended the meeting says Waxman did say will use the 2008 Farm Bill definition of renewable biomass in the EPA offsets program.

 House Appropriations Committee:  2010 Ag Funding summary

House Appropriations Committee: FY 2010 Ag Appropriations cuts

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