Friday, October 2, 2009

The Debts of the Spenders: US Senators Slash Farming Pork From Bill and Anger Agra Lobby

Translation: Big agra lobbyists are angry over proposed cuts to the carbon offset program, a lucrative trading scheme that would open a new can of worms for the CFTC to handle.

Senate’s Climate Change Bill Adds To Farmers’ Concerns

The newly unveiled Senate version of legislation designed to cut U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases has none of the financial protections for farmers that are present in the House version, and that has U.S. farm groups concerned.

At the National Corn Growers Association there’s an all-out effort to work with senators to add protection for farmers’ livelihoods in the Senate bill, but the group’s leaders say they remain wary of even the friendlier House version.

Obama administration officials have promised farmers that the revenue protections for them in the House bill - essentially allowing farmers to cash in on their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by selling “offsets” - will be more than enough to help them cope with rising energy prices.

However, Darrin Ihnen, NCGA president, and Bart Schott, vice president, said they aren’t so sure. They supported the farm protections in the House bill and are working to get similar provisions in the Senate version, they said, but it’s not clear if that will be enough.

To that end, the group is funding a study to see how corn farmers will fare under the House bill, with results expected in a couple weeks, Ihnen said. “That will give us an idea of how we can make the bill better...or if we can support it at all.”

When Senators John Kerry, D-Mass., and Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., this week
introduced the Senate’s version of the climate change bill, the negative reactions came quickly from farm groups and farm-state senators.
The National Farmers Union, which had signed on to support the House bill, was critical of the Senate version.

“It is important the U.S. Senate begin the process of developing climate change and renewable energy legislation,” NFU President Roger Johnson said. “However, the language unveiled fails to address the unique role agriculture can play.”

Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., said the Senate bill “would only hurt farmers,
ranchers and forest landowners and provide them no opportunity to recoup the higher costs they will pay for energy and the other inputs necessary to work the land. I cannot support this bill.”

The criticism from Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., was just as sharp: “This bill is an assault on agriculture. For agriculture, the costs are real and the benefits are theoretical - our country’s heartland is in the crosshairs of this national energy tax.”

Source CME News For Tomorrow
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