FarmPolicy

January 22, 2020

Climate Issues; Doha; U.S. Ag Economy; SNAP (Food Stamps); Biofuels; and Food Security

Climate Issues

Juliet Eilperin reported in yesterday’s Washington Post that, “By offering concrete emission targets last week, the United States and China have resuscitated global climate talks that were headed toward an impasse. But the details that have yet to be resolved — including the money that industrialized countries would offer poorer ones as part of an agreement — suggest a political deal remains a heavy lift for the 192 countries set to convene in Copenhagen in little more than a week.

“Although the proposals from the world’s two biggest greenhouse-gas emitters have boosted the prospects for a deal, they demonstrate something else as well: No one wants to shoulder the blame for failure at Copenhagen, even if it means the final outcome falls short of what many had envisioned a year or two ago. The U.S. pledge to cut its emissions by 2020 and China’s offer to lower its carbon dioxide output relative to the size of its economy by the same date are more modest than what their negotiating partners had demanded.”

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Climate Issues; Food Security; and Biofuels

Climate Issues

Juliet Eilperin and Michael D. Shear reported in yesterday’s Washington Post that, “The White House announced Wednesday that President Obama will attend U.N.-sponsored climate talks in Copenhagen next month and commit the United States to specific targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“The administration’s decision to identify a series of goals, including cutting emissions over the next decade ‘in the range of’ 17 percent below 2005 levels, is a calculated risk, given that Congress has never set mandatory limits on greenhouse gases.”

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ERS 2009 Farm Sector Income Forecast; Climate Issues; and SNAP (Food Stamp) Issues

Editor’s Note: Happy Thanksgiving, FarmPolicy will return on Friday.

ERS 2009 Farm Sector Income Forecast

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service (ERS) updated its 2009 farm sector income forecast yesterday.

ERS stated that, “Net farm income is forecast to be $57 billion in 2009, down $30 billion (34.5 percent) from 2008. The 2009 forecast is $6.5 billion below the average of $63.6 billion in net farm income earned in the previous 10 years. Still, the $57 billion forecast for 2009 remains the eighth largest amount of income earned in U.S. farming. The top five earnings years have been tightly grouped between 2003 and 2008, attesting to the profitability of farming this decade” [see related graph-net farm income 1998-2009f].

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Climate Issues; Sen Ag Committee Hearing; Biofuels; and Trade

Climate Issues

Lisa Lerer reported yesterday at Politico.com that, “It’s been a bad few weeks for the Obama administration when it comes to climate change, as the White House has found itself trapped between a stalled Senate and constant hammering from world leaders on a lack of leadership on global warming.

“On Monday, the administration hit back.

“‘It would be a mistake to conclude that the international community’s failure to reach a final treaty in Copenhagen is due to a lack of domestic legislation in the United States,’ said a senior White House official, who briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity.”

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Ag-Rural Economy; “Green” Jobs- Climate Issues; and Chairman Lincoln

Ag-Rural Economy

Shaila Dewan reported in today’s New York Times that, “In August, [John Hart, a farmer in the hills just east of the Mississippi Delta, and other Southern farmers] thought they had a bumper crop — the best they had seen in years. It was the kind of crop that could put you ahead, for once. Pay off that combine.

But just as the harvest began in September, it began to rain, and it kept raining through October, normally one of the driest months here. The soybeans shriveled and blackened with mold. The rice keeled over into the mud. The cotton hardened into tight little spitballs. The sweet potatoes rotted underground. When the combines could get into the fields, they scarred them with deep ruts that will make next year’s planting more expensive.

“Last year, with commodity prices running at record highs, farming across the nation seemed to be bucking the recession. This year, with the rest of the country in a slow recovery from a man-made disaster, nature forced a crash of its own in the South.

“‘I was counting my money until September,’ Mr. Hart said. ‘I don’t know whether I’m going to be able to farm another year or not.’”

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Climate Issues; Trade; Ag Economy; Crop Insurance; Rural Broadband Hearing; and the Corn Genome

Climate Issues

Elisabeth Rosenthal reported in today’s New York Times that, “With less than three weeks remaining before negotiators gather in Copenhagen to hammer out a global response to climate change, a rapid-fire succession of countries are unveiling national plans that serve as opening bids for reining in heat-trapping emissions.

“‘The list of what is on the table is rather long,’ said Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the sponsor of the meeting, which runs from Dec. 7 to 18 in Copenhagen.

“But, speaking at the United Nations headquarters on Thursday, he seized on the latest pledges to take aim at the United States, which has not yet played its hand.

“‘We now have offers of targets from all industrialized countries except the United States,’ Mr. de Boer said. He emphasized that he was looking to the United States for ‘a numerical midterm target and commitment to financial support.’”

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Climate Legislation; Food Safety; Food Security; Trade; Biofuels; Animal Agriculture; and CFTC Issues

Climate Legislation

Ben Geman reported yesterday at The Hill Online that, “White House climate czar Carol Browner downplayed the idea that the absence of a domestic emissions law would hinder U.S. leverage in Copenhagen and said the U.S. could tout major accomplishments heading into next month’s international climate talks.

“ In wide-ranging remarks at a climate conference in Washington, D.C., Wednesday, she also said President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao made substantial progress in their Beijing discussions this week.”

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Climate Issues; Sen. Ag. Committee Hearing: Nutrition Programs; and CFTC Issues

Climate Issues

Reuters writers Chris Buckley and Alister Doyle reported yesterday that, “U.S. President Barack Obama said on Tuesday next month’s climate talks in Copenhagen should cut a deal with ‘immediate operational effect,’ even if its original aim of a legally binding pact is not achievable.

“About 40 environment ministers meeting in Copenhagen made progress toward a scaled-down U.N. deal next month, while African leaders accepted for the first time that the December meeting would not agree a full treaty.

“Obama was speaking after talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao in which he said the world’s top two greenhouse gas emitters had agreed to take ‘significant’ action to mitigate their output of carbon dioxide.”

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Climate Legislation; Food Security: UN and U.S.; and the U.S. Ag Economy

Climate Legislation

Lisa Lerer reported yesterday at Politico.com that, “Shortly after Democrats took office last January, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) vowed the Senate would pass climate change legislation before the start of the international climate talks in Copenhagen.

“But less than a month before the eyes of the world turn to Denmark, it’s clear that there’s no chance a bill will get through the Senate by then — a domestic policy failure that leaves the U.S. with a weakened hand as it seeks to negotiate a global warming treaty with the rest of the world.”

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Climate Issues; UN Food Summit; and the U.S. Agricultural Economy

Climate Issues

The AP reported on Friday that, “President Barack Obama is calling on all nations to accept responsibility for fighting climate change.

“But he says he’s not expecting that it will be easy to reach an agreement at a climate change summit next month in Copenhagen.

Speaking in Tokyo, Obama said nations that are the biggest emitters must set clear targets for reducing those emissions. And he said developing countries will need to take substantial actions of their own.”

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Climate Issues; Sec. Vilsack and Production Agriculture; Food Security; Biofuels; CRP; and Trade

Climate Issues: Domestic Concerns; International Expectations

Reuters writer Ayesha Rascoe reported yesterday that, “In the latest obstacle to proposed U.S. climate legislation, key lawmakers Thursday urged Senate Democrats to change distribution plans for carbon permits to offer more protection for coal-dependent utilities.

“The lawmakers said the allocation scheme in the current Senate bill does not apportion permits in an equitable manner and will result in higher electricity rates for consumers in regions that rely mostly on coal for power generation.”

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Climate Issues and Agriculture; Food Security; and Food Safety

Climate Issues and Agriculture

Dan Morgan, a former Washington Post reporter and editor, who is now an independent writer specializing in agriculture and energy, published an article yesterday titled, “Mining Carbon Down on the Farm.”

Datelined from Wheatland, Wyoming, the article stated that, “This region of the country was built from selling coal, gold, lead and other minerals buried in the ground. Now some farmers and ranchers are betting there is treasure in yet another element below the surface: carbon.

“At this point, it is still a long-shot gamble.”

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Climate Legislation; Crop Production; USAID Nomination; and Financial Reform

Climate Legislation

Jim Snyder reported yesterday at The Hill Online that, “Democratic supporters of climate legislation on Tuesday battled critics who argue cutting carbon emissions will hurt the economy and cost jobs.

“The setting was a Senate Finance Committee hearing on climate change and job creation that served as another reminder of how the debate over carbon has as much to do with the economy as with the environment, especially as unemployment levels rise.”

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Climate Legislation; Biofuels; Chairman Lincoln; Food Security; Farm Bill; and Doha

Climate Legislation

Darren Samuelsohn of ClimateWire reported yesterday at The New York Times Online that, “The Senate climate debate shifts into a higher gear this week as advocates look beyond the partisan gridlock that engulfed the Environment and Public Works Committee and onto the broader quest of finding 60 votes for floor passage.

“Tomorrow, the Finance and Energy and Natural Resources committees dive into the issue with a pair of simultaneous hearings on climate policy. [Note: As of this morning, an update posted at the Energy and Natural Resources homepage indicates that today’s hearing has been postponed].

On Finance, Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) will study the job implications of global warming legislation with testimony from a major labor union, economists, and the nuclear power and electric utility industry. Baucus has said he may hold a markup this year on the trade provisions of a climate bill and address how to distribute greenhouse gas emission allowances among regulated industries.”

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Climate Legislation; Harvest; Animal Agriculture; Nutrition Programs; and Biofuels

Climate Legislation

Lisa Lerer reported on Friday at Poltico.com that, “While Sen. Barbara Boxer was celebrating her committee’s passage of a sweeping climate change bill Thursday, other Democrats and Republicans were already looking for a Plan B.

“Rank-and-file members from both parties dismissed the Boxer bill, coal-state senators were unhappy and many said Boxer’s move to approve the bill without any Republicans even in the committee room had poisoned the process.

“‘It dooms that particular legislation. The question is what comes next,’ said Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski. ‘We will see what Plan B is.’”

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Climate Legislation; Corn Use; and Food Security

Categories: Climate Change

Climate Legislation

Juliet Eilperin reported in today’s Washington Post that, “Disregarding a Republican boycott, Democrats on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed legislation Thursday that would impose a mandatory curb on greenhouse gas emissions.

“The move to report out the bill sponsored by Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) and the panel’s chairman, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), highlighted the divisiveness of the current proposal, as well as Democrats’ eagerness to demonstrate they are making at least some progress before international climate talks next month in Copenhagen.

“Even as the panel approved the measure on a vote of 11 to 1 — with Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) opposing it because he said it included climate targets that are too steep and would not do enough to protect farmers — attention shifted to Kerry’s efforts to collaborate with Sens. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) on a different bipartisan measure that would seek to expand the number of nuclear reactors and oil drilling off U.S. coasts. Many senators see these talks — rather than the bill approved in committee — as the main vehicle for any legislation that would reach the floor.”

The article added that, “Baucus, who had sought to bring the measure’s 2020 reduction target down to 17 percent and wanted additional provisions concerning the agriculture industry, said he will continue to work to craft a more politically viable piece of legislation.” (Note: To listen to comments made by Sen. Baucus at yesterday’s Senate Committee meeting regarding his “no” vote on the bill, just click here (MP3-3:04)).

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