The Boxer-Kerry climate change bill introduced in the Senate on Wednesday includes few provisions that are friendly to agriculture and will be strongly opposed by the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF).
“America’s farmers and ranchers did not fare that well in the House-passed climate change bill and they fare even worse in the Senate bill,” says AFBF President Bob Stallman. “There are few benefits and even greater costs to agriculture and the American public.”
The bill, authored by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and John Kerry (D-MA), seeks to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions through a cap-and-trade program. The legislation would require greenhouse gas emissions to be cut 20% by 2020 from 2005 levels – greater than the House bill’s target of 17%. Stallman says the 20% target is unrealistic and will lead to higher energy bills for all consumers.
“The Waxman-Markey bill, passed narrowly by the House this summer, did at least include credits to farmers for carbon-storing or carbon management practices. The Senate bill does not guarantee any benefits to agriculture for carbon sequestration,” Stallman says.
Another major concern for AFBF is that the Boxer-Kerry bill would not prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from continuing to move forward to fully regulate all greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. The bill also does nothing to provide alternative sources of energy to fill the energy deficit left by the reduction in fossil fuels, nor does it prevent the EPA from using controversial indirect land use principles that penalize ethanol, according to Stallman.
“This bill does not realistically address America’s energy needs,” says Stallman.
“Both the Senate and House bills would bring higher fuel and fertilizer costs to American farmers and ranchers, which puts us at a competitive disadvantage in international markets with other countries that do not have similar carbon emission restrictions,” Stallman says. “For the future prosperity of the U.S. economy and American agriculture, climate change legislation must be defeated by Congress.”