“Even with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack presenting a fresh study showing the impact of cap and trade on agriculture would be negligible, senators from both parties were reluctant to buy what the Obama administration was selling.”
The DFP item pointed to several unanswered questions that remained after last week’s hearing:
Climate Legislation-Farm Groups Lack Complete Unanimity
Lisa Lerer reported yesterday at Politico.com that, “Cracks are emerging within the powerful farm lobby, as the agriculture community fractures over the sweeping climate and energy bill expected to be taken up by the Senate this fall.”
Anna Palmer reported today at Roll Call Online that, “Despite a marathon negotiating effort by House Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) earlier this month to provide enough incentives to bring the farming community on board, agriculture groups are still split over the [climate change] legislation.
“In fact, the American Farm Bureau Federation, long a powerful industry lobby, is taking direct aim at killing climate change legislation in the Senate.”
Chris Clayton indicated yesterday at the DTN Ag Policy Blog that, “Last week, USDA made a semi-valiant effort to make an economic case that the House-passed cap and trade approach to controlling greenhouse gasses would be good for agriculture. It presented to the Senate Ag Committee an initial analysis that concluded the bill would raise ag production costs only modestly, especially in the near term, and that it would offer producers a number of new ways to create and sell ‘carbon offsets’ that would boost their incomes. Agency officials across the administration joined in the cheerleading effort — and promptly ran into a buzz saw of questions from both sides of the political aisle.”
Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Saxby Chambliss issued a news release on Friday, which stated that, “Following a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing on the effects of climate change legislation on farmers, U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) and other members of the Committee today sent a letter to Dr. Joseph Glauber, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Chief Economist, requesting updates to USDA’s study regarding EPA’s agriculture analysis of H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009. U.S. Senators Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and John Thune (R-S.D.), joined Sen. Chambliss in signing the letter asking USDA to brief the Committee on the results of the analysis.
“In the letter, the Senators said USDA’s ‘Preliminary Analysis of the Effects of H.R. 2454 on U.S. Agriculture’ is a first step in understanding the vast impacts of H.R. 2454; however it is more appropriate for USDA to use a range of estimates, rather than rely solely on estimates from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Last week, Sen. Chambliss wrote EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson requesting the release of a model Professor Bruce McCarl at Texas A&M University provided, along with all data and supporting information including assumptions and results to the Committee.
“Additionally, during the hearing members noted acreage estimates from the American Farm Bureau Federation regarding the conversion of cropland to new forest land. Initial estimates calculated from data furnished by EPA indicated 40 million acres would be subject to afforestation; however according to Committee calculations, that figure could be significantly higher. It appears that the June 2009 EPA analysis would suggest a minimum of 78 million acres of cropland would be converted to forests by 2050. That is nearly 20 percent of total cropland in the United States.”
Philip Brasher reported in yesterday’s Des Moines Register that, “The Obama administration is struggling to convince farm-state senators that controls on greenhouse gases would be a good deal for farmers and ranchers.
“But administration officials admitted to a Senate committee that they don’t know a key detail: how much land would be taken out of production and converted to forests under a program to reduce emissions. Diverting farmland to trees would keep some carbon out of the atmosphere but it also would raise commodity prices and boost the cost of feed for livestock producers, potentially raising food prices.”
“In the near term, most of the money would go to people who plant trees to lock carbon in the soil or enroll woodlands as carbon sinks. Relatively small amounts would be generated by changes in tillage or crops.”
Climate Legislation- Perspectives on Costs to Agriculture; Sen. Ag. Comm. Hearing
Reuters writer Charles Abbott reported yesterday that, “The impact on U.S. farms and ranches from climate-change legislation will be bearable, partly because of the chance to earn money for controlling greenhouse gases, said the House Agriculture Committee chairman on Tuesday.
“Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson, during a speech to American Soybean Association members, pointed to think-tank estimates the climate bill passed by the House would drive up crop production costs by 1.8 percent-4.6 percent in the near term.”
Climate Legislation- Timing, Process and Costs (Johanns Takes Assertive Role)
Emily Pierce reported today at Roll Call Online that, “Climate change is the ticking political time bomb on the Senate’s agenda this fall, and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has the timer set to go off in late September.
“With the debate on health care sucking up so much oxygen in the Senate these days, few are paying attention to the cavernous gulf among Democrats over how to tackle global warming and the lack — so far — of a way to bring Members together while also appealing to Republicans.
Lisa Lerer reported on Friday at Politico.com that, “Stung by complaints that it did too little, too late in the House, the Obama administration has launched an intense, senator-by-senator effort to push climate change legislation through the Senate.
DTN Ag Policy Editor Chris Clayton reported on Wednesday (link requires subscription) that, “A pair of key analytical reports project climate legislation could increase Midwest production costs anywhere from 1.49 percent to 3.2 percent, based on potential cost increases for fuel and fertilizer.
The hearing yesterday lasted nearly two hours; however, included below are a few brief FarmPolicy.com audio clips that provide a glimpse into the nature of the testimony, as well as perspectives from some Senators on the Waxman-Markey climate legislation.
To listen to the opening statements from Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-California) and Ranking member James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), just click here (MP3-6:51). This clip provides a general overview of two opposing views on the legislation.
A separate exchange between Mr. Stallman and Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyoming) also included more specific details on the potential impacts of the climate bill on production agriculture, this exchange can be heard here, (MP3-5:15).
And in his opening statement at yesterday’s Senate hearing (related news release), Senator Kit Bond (R-Missouri) tackled the issue of the bill’s potential impact on agricultural production expenses and highlighted in greater detail the recent report on the subject from the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI). To listen to the comments from Sen. Bond, just click here (MP3-4:17).
“At the request of Missouri Senator Kit Bond, the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute at the University of Missouri-Columbia (FAPRI-MU) has analyzed the effect of higher energy costs from the recently House-passed legislation, ‘The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009’ (H.R. 2454) on Missouri crop production costs. This analysis uses increases in energy costs as estimated by CRA International in its analysis of H.R. 2454. FAPRI-MU uses the results from CRA International since models of energy markets that would allow analysis of energy price changes from H.R. 2454 are not maintained by FAPRI-MU. This analysis hinges directly on the energy price effects as reported by CRA International,” the report said.
FAPRI indicated that, “This report is not a full analysis of the impact of H.R. 2454 on Missouri crop producers. This report does not incorporate likely responses by producers to these changes in production costs. As input costs increase, producers could adjust input usage and the mix of crops produced, with implications for crop yields, production and prices.”
On page four, the FAPRI report stated that, “Producers use many energy inputs in the production of agricultural commodities. The direct impact of a policy change that increases energy costs will be to reduce farmers’ bottom lines. This analysis shows only the direct effects of higher energy prices that are expected to result from H.R. 2454. This analysis does not provide a complete analysis of H.R. 2454. The analysis does not consider possible impacts on input usage, biofuel production, crop production and prices, or the value of any carbon credits that producers might be able to sell.
“Using the 11, 34 and 45 percent increases found by CRA International in motor fuel, natural gas and electricity prices, respectively, by 2050 as a result of H.R. 2454, estimated Missouri crop operating costs increase by 8.1, 8.8, 4.4 and 10.4 percent for dryland corn, irrigated corn, soybeans and wheat respectively.”
Peter Baker and Rachel Donadio reported in Saturday’s New York Times that, “President Obama told African countries on Friday that the legacy of colonialism was not an excuse for failing to build prosperous, democratic societies even as he leaned on the world’s richest nations to come up with billions of dollars more to feed the hungry.
“Just hours before he arrived here to begin his first trip as president to sub-Saharan Africa, Mr. Obama made a personal appeal to other leaders of the Group of 8 powers meeting in L’Aquila, Italy, for larger donations to the aid effort, citing his own family’s experiences in Kenya. As a result, the initiative grew from $15 billion over three years, which was pledged coming into the summit meeting, to $20 billion.”
An update posted yesterday at CQPolitics.com reported that, “Senate committee action on climate change legislation will be delayed until September, giving negotiators and their aides an extra month to work on the controversial legislation.
“Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said Thursday she no longer intends to mark up the bill before the Senate leaves for its summer recess Aug. 7. Instead, she said, she will set the markup for early September.”
Jared Allen reported yesterday at The Hill Online that, “The chief architect of the climate change bill that barely squeaked by the House last month indicated Wednesday that he’s open to seeing the bill significantly altered by the Senate if that’s what it takes to ensure its passage.
“‘The irreducible core of the bill is that we get the reductions in carbon emissions,’ House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) said Wednesday morning during a breakfast sponsored by the National Journal and a number of energy and healthcare industry groups.
“Beyond that, Waxman laid down no specific boundaries that, if crossed, would doom the bill.”