Testifying before the Senate Environment Committee, American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman said S. 1733, the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act, fails farmers. Stallman said the Senate bill exhibits the same shortcoming as the measure approved by the House in that it fails to provide a cost-effective blueprint to transition to a clean energy economy. Plus he said cap and trade legislation would result in higher fuel, fertilizer and energy costs to farmers and ranchers.
Citing an EPA report that indicates the agriculture and forestry sectors are responsible for reducing more greenhouse gas emissions than they emit Stallman said climate change policy should seek to maximize these contributions from agriculture, not punish them. The measure crafted by Senators Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and John Kerry, D-Mass., does not specifically provide a place for ag and forestry in its offset program, which Stallman said takes a step backward from the House bill. He said agriculture and forestry can play a key role in any future national energy policy but S. 1733 fails to recognize this role and would penalize the very sectors with the best opportunity to reduce greenhouse emissions in the most cost-effective manner for all.
National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson testified that the bill lacks the robust and flexible ag offset program needed for the nation’s farmers and ranchers to be able to mitigate increased costs that will come with a cap and trade program. He noted USDA expects producers to benefit economically from such a program, but a purely regulatory approach will bring all of the downsides of increased energy inputs without the upsides of carbon offset opportunities. Johnson says that is why NFU supports a comprehensive legislative approach to addressing climate change; but they want USDA to have control of the ag offset program; recognition of early actors; no artificial cap on domestic offsets; science-based carbon sequestration rates; and permission for producers to stack environmental benefit credits.