Wheat Growers Turn Against Waxman-Markey

Published November 1, 2009

The National Association of Wheat Growers, which supported U.S. House of Representatives passage of the Waxman-Markey bill restricting carbon dioxide emissions, has studied the measure further and now opposes it, believing the bill imposes disproportionate economic hardship on U.S. farmers.

The group’s new position marked a sharp change in course. In a July 2 editorial in the agricultural publication Wheat World, NAWG President Karl Scronce had noted his organization’s support for the bill, writing, “agricultural producers have the opportunity to participate in carbon markets and make money in the process.”

Deep Economic Concern

On August 19, however, Scronce sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack expressing “deep concern” about the economic impact of carbon dioxide restrictions.

Scronce wrote Vilsack in response to the secretary’s ongoing assertions farmers will reap economic benefits from legislation restricting carbon dioxide emissions.

“While possible economic gains may be realized, possible economic losses may also result, particularly for actors in such an energy-intensive sector as production agriculture,” Scronce wrote to Vilsack.

Board Rescinds Prior Support

After Scronce’s August 19 letter to Vilsack, the NAWG board voted to rescind all prior resolutions expressing support for carbon dioxide restrictions.

“The NAWG Board of Directors met this morning via conference call and voted 26 to two to approve a new resolution regarding greenhouse gas regulation. The Board also voted 24 to zero to remove existing resolutions relating to greenhouse gas regulation and an agriculture cap-and-trade program,” Scronce reported in a September 4 press statement.

In place of prior carbon dioxide resolutions, the NAWG board passed a new resolution stating:

“NAWG is opposed to greenhouse gas legislation or regulation that has a negative impact on production agriculture. NAWG will strive for a net economic benefit to farmers, agriculture and food production. We believe neither greenhouse gas regulation nor legislation should take effect until the major carbon emitting countries of the world have agreed to regulate their own greenhouse gases in a like manner to ours. NAWG urges USDA to do a detailed economic analysis of any legislation or regulation before it becomes law. Furthermore, NAWG will oppose EPA regulation and will work to overturn the [U.S.] Supreme Court ruling.”

James M. Taylor ([email protected]) is a senior fellow of The Heartland Institute and managing editor of Environment & Climate News.