Farm Bureau delegates spoke with a single voice at their annual convention January 12, as all 369 in attendance voted for a resolution opposing congressional cap-and-trade legislation.
Slam Dunk Decision
“That was a slam dunk,” says Jon Huffmaster, legislative director for the Georgia Farm Bureau, about the unanimous vote. “We had farm delegates from all the 50 states, and the whole delegation voted for it. They asked if anybody had opposition and wanted to speak, but nobody spoke.”
The resolution also asks for legislation revoking the authority of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to use the Clean Air Act as a justification for regulating greenhouse gases.
In a press release accompanying the vote, the Farm Bureau condemned cap and trade as a fiscally irresponsible policy that would lead to higher production costs for farmers and the loss of up to 2.3 million jobs over the next 20 years. The bureau also questioned the validity of the science that has been cited to support cap and trade.
“E-mails made public call into question just how unsettled the science really is on climate change and demonstrate the unwillingness of many of the world’s climatologists to share data or even entertain opposing viewpoints,” the Farm Bureau’s written statement noted. “The recently completed Copenhagen summit resulted in demands for the U.S. to transfer billions of dollars to the developing world to fight climate change, but produced no meaningful agreement.”
Costly Economic Burden
Huffmaster said farmers would be hit especially hard by cap-and-trade legislation because “everything we do is based on energy. Farming is very energy-intensive.”
Virginia Farm Bureau communications director Greg Hicks agrees, pointing to farmers’ need for affordable energy to heat poultry facilities, operate tractors and other machinery, and apply chemical fertilizers that require natural gas for production.
“Cap-and-trade would be devastating to the agricultural economy across the country,” Hicks said. “It would raise energy costs and electricity costs for everybody, including farmers,… and it would raise food prices for consumers.”
Hicks cited a recent U.S. Energy Department report concluding cap-and-trade would increase the average household electricity and energy costs by $1,870 per year. For farmers, he said, that cost would be even higher.
“It would be four times that,” Hicks said. “Because for farmers, they’d have the household cost plus the business costs.… This is going to affect farmers a lot more than the average consumer.”
Cheryl K. Chumley ([email protected]) writes from Northern Virginia.