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Farmers Lose Big in Climate Bill, Farm Bureau Warns
July 14, 2009

Posted by: Matt Dempsey Matt_Dempsey@epw.senate.gov

Farmers Lose Big in Climate Bill, Farm Bureau Warns

 

 EPW Republicans Continue to Expose Flaws of Cap-and-Trade Bill 

In testimony before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee today, (watch) Bob Stallman, President of the American Farm Bureau warned of the devastating costs imposed on farmers if the Waxman global warming bill is signed into law. In his testimony before the committee, Stallman stated, “increased input costs will put our farmers and ranchers at a competitive disadvantage with producers in other countries that do not have similar GHG restrictions. Any loss of international markets or resulting loss of production in the United States will encourage production overseas in countries where production methods may be less efficient than in the United States.”

“Let’s face it: as anyone familiar with agriculture knows, farming is an energy-intensive business with high-costs and low profit margins,” Senator Inhofe said in his opening statement. “So when the price of diesel, electricity, or natural gas goes up, farmers really feel the pinch. So it’s not surprising that a significant portion of the agricultural community opposes cap-and-trade, the purpose of which is to raise prices on the energy that farmers use.”

Following-up on an admission last week by EPA Administrator Jackson that, without reductions by China and India, any climate bill in the United States would be “meaningless,” Senator Inhofe asked Stallman during the question-answer period, “what are we doing here” if China and India have flatly rejected cutting emissions.  

In his opening statement, Senator Crapo expressed fear that cap-and-trade would be detrimental to agriculture. “Lately, I have become increasingly concerned that the costs of cap-and-trade will outweigh the benefits to farmers and foresters.  For example, I have heard that some crops like potatoes and certain specialty crops are not suitable for no-till or other farming practices that sequester carbon in the soil.  I also worry that livestock producers will be unable to feasibly purchase and utilize anaerobic digesters, which carry a price tag of $2-3 million.” 

Citing a new study by the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) at the University of Missouri, U.S. Senator Kit Bond warned of the disastrous effect the Democrats cap and trade legislation will have on Missouri farmers. The FAPRI study found that proposed cap and trade legislation will cost the average Missouri farmer an additional $11,000 a year in 2020 and more than $30,000 a year by 2050. “Missouri farms will face tens of thousands of dollars each year in new, higher energy costs from the House cap and trade bill.”

Senator Barrasso echoed the concerns about the promise of new green jobs resulting from Waxman-Markey in his opening statement, saying, “The Waxman-Markey bill may create green jobs.  It may even create green jobs in the agricultural sector.  If it does, good. We need green jobs in my State.  Wyoming welcomes the possibility of them. But the Waxman-Markey bill also costs jobs and Americans want all jobs, not just some. They don’t want to lose the jobs they have with the promise that ‘they may get a green job in exchange.’ The Administration says the Waxman-Markey will create millions of new jobs. This Administration also promised that after we passed the economic stimulus package, we would create or save 3.5 million jobs. Since the passage of that bill, unemployment has reached 9.5%.  Last month, 467,000 people lost their jobs. The Administration’s economic experts said that unemployment would not exceed 8%. Were they wrong?  You bet. Vice President Biden acknowledged administration officials were too optimistic earlier this year when they predicted the unemployment rate would peak at 8 percent. Vice President Biden said the Administration and I quote ‘misread the economy.’” Is it possible then that the Administration is misreading the economic predictions of millions of new jobs being created in this bill?”

More from Stallman’s testimony:

“We also know, for instance, that the climate models that have gotten so much attention did not predict the cooling that has occurred over the last decade. We know that there have been times in the earth’s history when carbon concentrations in the atmosphere were greater, when temperatures have been cooler or warmer – in short, there are any number of variables that probably affect the earth’s climate in ways that we simply don’t know. We know that reputable scientists have raised questions about the computer models that are being used.

“The legislation that passed the House of Representatives will have virtually no impact on the earth’s temperature in the year 2050. I believe Administrator Lisa Jackson indicated as much in her testimony earlier before this committee.

“Unless other countries, such as China and India, adopt similar emissions restrictions, the United States, if it adopts this legislation, will be embarking on a fool’s errand at great cost to our economy and our children and grandchildren.

 

“Most experts agree that if the House legislation worked exactly as planned, it would not lower temperatures by more than a few tenths of a degree by 2050.

 

“We all support leadership by the United States. But don’t forget one thing: leadership only occurs when people are following you. If they’re not, then it’s the economic equivalent of unilateral disarmament. Leadership does not require the creation of inflexible restrictions on our economy with the hope – which so far seems largely unfounded – that major emitters in the rest of the world will follow.

 

“These increased input costs will put our farmers and ranchers at a competitive disadvantage with producers in other countries that do not have similar GHG restrictions. Any loss of international markets or resulting loss of production in the United States will encourage production overseas in countries where production methods may be less efficient than in the United States.

 

“The Global Warming community is very articulate on what they are against. Unfortunately, they’re not quite as vocal about what they support.

 

“No one is against wind energy, solar energy, or other renewable sources of supply. But they will not replace significant portions of our base load capacity. In addition, revenue from offsets will defray only a portion of the increased input costs resulting from a cap-and-trade program, and not all of the costs. Producers will still face the prospect of increased input costs without the ability to pass on those costs.” 

Related Links From Hearing:

Ag Opposes Cap-and-Trade

China Wins Big with Waxman-Markey - Inhofe Floor Speech

American Public Deserves to Know What Is In the Global Warming Bill

Democrats Feel the Heat From the Heartland

Inhofe: Lack of Action by Developing Nations Makes Senate Cap-and-Trade Bill “Meaningless”

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