Farm Bureau speaks out against mandatory cap-and-trade

Apr 17, 2009
Farm Bureau speaks out against mandatory cap-and-trade

Congress should not pass cap-and-trade legislation mandating reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions, but should instead promote a market-based incentive program to address climate change, the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) said last Tuesday.

AFBF detailed its opposition to a mandated cap-andtrade program in a response to a survey recently sent out by the House Agriculture Committee. The committee sent the questionnaire to more than 400 groups to prepare for possible hearings on climate-change legislation being considered in the House.

Bob Stallman, president of AFBF, stated in the survey that agriculture and the forestry business should not be regulated or capped under any carbon-reduction program. Further, any legislation designed to reduce carbon emissions must make sure the costs don’t outweigh the benefits.

“Congress should not enact a carbon tax, and a capand-trade program should be voluntary,” Stallman stated in a news release.

Any cap or taxing of agriculture would only limit the potential sequestration benefits agriculture could provide in reducing carbon, Stallman said. He added that a voluntary offset program would allow farmers and livestock producers to reduce emissions and recoup a portion of their increased input costs.

“Over the past decade, improved agricultural practices such as no-till cropping, targeted chemical applications through global positioning satellite technology, and methane digesters have reduced emissions from the agricultural sector,” Stallman said. “This demonstrates that if the agriculture and forestry sector are provided proper incentives, they will reduce their emissions even further.”

Some members of the House are expected to push a cap-and-trade program more aggressively after Congress returns from its Easter break. Preparing for possible legislation, a coalition of agricultural groups has been working to come to agreement on how agriculture should be treated under any legislation to restrict greenhouse-gas emissions, though AFBF did not sign on to the coalition’s white paper released last month.

Administration officials indicated early last week at a climate-change conference that they would like to see Congress complete legislation, or at least define a policy direction, before a United Nations conference on climate change set for December.

Proposals in Congress to lower greenhouse-gas emissions would establish caps on the amount of greenhouse gases companies can emit. Under a cap-and-trade scenario, operations emitting less than their allotted caps could trade excess carbon emissions to other companies that are exceeding their quotas.

On April 10, the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) sent its response to the House Agriculture Committee questionnaire, stating that NAWG backs a policy allowing agriculture to fully participate in any cap-and-trade program without limits on sequestration. Any legislation should also be written in a way to provide economic benefits for agricultural and forestry carbon credits to outweigh any possible increases in input costs caused by greenhouse-gas legislation.

NAWG also stated that while the Environmental Protection Agency should administer any federal capand-trade program, “USDA should exercise its authority from the 2008 farm bill to administer the development and implementation of agriculture and forestry offset policies.” — Chris Clayton, DTN