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Farm Bureau delegates strongly oppose cap and trade legislation

Agriculture.com Staff 01/13/2010 @ 6:37am

If there were any doubts that cap and trade legislation is opposed by nearly all members of the American Farm Bureau Federation, those doubts ended Tuesday with a unanimous vote for a "sense of the delegate body" resolution opposing climate change bills working through Congress.

The resolution also says Farm Bureau "strongly supports any legislative action that would suspend EPA's authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act."

Just before the international meeting on climate change in Copenhagen in December, the EPA announced its plans to enforce a 2007 Supreme Court decision that gives it the authority to regulate greenhouse gases. Farm Bureau's opposition to cap and trade legislation is based on the group's view that:

  • cap and trade would cause significantly higher production costs for farmers
  • benefits from selling carbon credits would be unavailable to many producers and would not outweigh higher costs
  • it would eliminate up to 2.3 million jobs over 20 years
  • recent emails in Britain (dubbed ClimateGate) showed disagreement among some scientists and "call into question just how unsettled the science really is on climate change."
  • the recent Copenhagen summit brought demands from the developing world to the U.S. to "transfer billions of dollars" to fight climate change
  • and that EPA regulation "would significantly burden all sectors of the economy, especially agriculture."

Some Farm Bureau delegates are so strongly opposed to cap and trade that they also wanted to reject its own policy committee's recommendation to keep past policy that supports "market-based incentives, such as pollutant credit trading" as preferable to mandated carbon trading.

"We're opposed to climate change, period," said North Dakota Farm Bureau president Eric Aasmundstad, who argued that losing the battle to stop cap and trade legislation could hurt farmers for decades.

But several delegates countered that Farm Bureau needs some policies on carbon trading in order to negotiate in Washington on an issue that isn't going to go away.

South Carolina Farm Bureau President David Winkles said he had recently talked to Senator Lindsay Graham, a Republican from his state who is working on drafting a new version of climate legislation that might draw more support in the Senate. Graham said the nation needs an energy policy, and legislation dealing with carbon emissions might be one way to get it.

The effort to drop Farm Bureau's policy on voluntary carbon trading failed, by a vote of 252-111.

If there were any doubts that cap and trade legislation is opposed by nearly all members of the American Farm Bureau Federation, those doubts ended Tuesday with a unanimous vote for a "sense of the delegate body" resolution opposing climate change bills working through Congress.

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