Reactions vary to climate change bill

Opinions vary greatly on the American Clean Energy and Security Act as changed by that compromise agreement between House Ag Committee Chair, Collin Peterson and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Henry Waxman.

(Click on highlighted area for that organization’s full statement)

American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman says despite the changes secured by Peterson they still can’t support the bill. “The bill forces agriculture and other productive sectors of our nation’s economy into a position of severe competitive disadvantage with trading partners like China and other nations who will not burden their economies to control carbon emissions.” As a result, Farm Bureau’s stance is that the climate change measure should be amended further or defeated.

The National Pork Producers Council supports the proposed changes but doubts the agricultural credits will be enough to offset the increase in energy expenses for producers. “NPPC anticipates significant increases in energy prices and in pork production costs under the House climate change bill. The hikes would be overwhelming to pork producers, who for the past 21 months have been losing an average of $22 per hog.” The organization’s statement goes on to say, “Many pork producers now are at risk of being put out of business, and passage of this climate change bill would only make that risk greater and put more producers in jeopardy.

The National Corn Growers Association supports the Peterson amendment but remains neutral on the overall bill. President Bob Dickey says while tremendous progress has been made on the bill, there are still some changes they would like to see. “The association will continue to advocate for producers who have been engaged in no-till and conservation tillage practices since earlier than 2001 to ensure they will not be unfairly penalized by being disqualified from an offsets market when continued carbon sequestration is achievable on their land. NCGA urges members of Congress to consider the implications of policies that create incentives for farmers to release previously stored carbon into the atmosphere in order to benefit from a cap and trade market.”

Sorghum growers share the corn growers view, National Sorghum Producers Chairman Toby Bostwick, says Chairman Collin Peterson’s “efforts on behalf of agriculture are to be highly commended.”  But, “given the potential negative effects” of the bill “on production costs and global competitiveness to producers, NSP does NOT support the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009.” 

The National Council of Farmer Cooperatives also urges passage of the Peterson amendment but defeat of the complete bill.  NCFC President Charles Conner states his members have serious reservations about the impact that HR 2454 will have on the cost of production for farmer cooperatives and their producer members across the country. This is especially true of farmer cooperative-owned petroleum refineries, which supply nearly two-thirds of on-farm fuel, and of domestic fertilizer producers.  “NCFC’s members fail to see the necessity to move this legislation forward in a compressed timeframe, thereby not giving the public the opportunity to fully gauge the total costs and benefits of the legislation.”

The National Farmers Union is supportive of the Peterson amendment and then the total bill urging passage by the House. NFU President Roger Johnson says, “A strong offset program overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the recognition of early actors will ensure America’s farmers and ranchers can be a part of the climate change solution.”

American Farmland Trust is praising the latest version of the bill. AFT president Jon Scholl says the compromise worked out by Congressmen Peterson and Waxman will maximize agriculture’s opportunities and maximize the bill’s environmental benefits. Scholl says the legislation could create incentives to improve stewardship on hundreds of millions of acres of American farm and ranch land and produce low carbon renewable fuels on farms. He contends agricultural lands provide the most available and cost-efficient means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The National Association of Wheat Growers support passage of the amended bill.  President Karl Scronce says greenhouse gas regulation is inevitable and he would rather it be by USDA instead of EPA.  “This is not perfect legislation, but legislation rarely is. We are deeply grateful for Chairman Peterson’s involvement in this process and appreciate the continued willingness of House Leadership to address the concerns of the agriculture community. We look forward to working with Senators in a similar manner.”

National Milk Producers Federation CEO Jerry Kozak praised the agriculture compromise saying it will allow methane digesters to participate in the program and recognizes changes in livestock rations which reduce methane output. But Kozak, like most others, know this bill has a long way to go; “What’s clear now is that congressional leaders realize that agriculture has a great deal riding on the outcome of this historic legislation. What’s not clear is the final form of the legislation, particularly since the Senate must also create a similar bill. We’re a long way from knowing how this will play out.”

Overall reaction to the compromise has been mixed; some environmental groups say the bill has been weakened by giving USDA rather than EPA authority over carbon credits. Republicans say the bill will cost Americans too much in higher energy prices although no one expects any Republican support for the measure anyway. The key for Speaker Pelosi is to get enough Democrats on board to pass the bill and getting Collin Peterson’s support was a big step in that direction.

  • We are dairy owners. To put more tax on us will put us out of business. Should we be taxed for the air we as humans also breathe? We take in o2 and give off Co2, so why pick on our cows, pigs, and poultry? We as farmers seems to have no say between the USDA and the EPA I believe you would like to put us all out of business and get all our milk and milk products as well as beef, poultry, and pork in boxes from foreign countries. I thought this was America, and farming was the back bone of America. Well, our so-called government is breaking the back-bone. If they place this redicilous tax on us, at prposed $175 per dairy cow, we will be put out of business. As I bring this up to other farmers, they also say with the poor prices for milk that USDA have so nicely given us as well as drops in beef, pork, and poltry we cannot sustain any more losses to pad some high up pockets who sit in offices and don’t really seem to know anything about “real” farming. At what length will the government do to to destroy farming America? I guess you should tax all other livestock and domestic pets, too, as every living thing burps and passes gas. Ever smell your dog stretched out on the living room floor?(Whew!) One last comment, if the government destroys the American farmers, the foreign food will have to be shipped in and transported by trucks, etc. I’d rather have my own dairy products than to have more deisel fuel in the air and accoss the seas and not know what I’m eating either. Stand up farmers before it’s too late. If this is an example of our government being for us, I can’t imagine what they will dream up next. I invite President Obama to really visit the farms before there aren’t any to visit and really see our mamagement practices. As for cattle, they’ve never been a public health hazard before for centuries, why now? I guess we will have to put corks in the cows’ backsides. After a big meal as a child, I wanted to run when my Dad said, ” Pull my finger.” Now that’s gas!

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