The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) has voiced opposition to climate change legislation it said will raise the cost of pork production.

The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, HR 2454, could come up for a vote in the House of Representatives this week. Among other things, the bill would set a limit or cap, on the amount of greenhouse gases that specific large industries such as energy utilities could release to the atmosphere. A business that has an emissions amount that falls below its cap could sell the unused amount up to the cap as offset credits; one that exceeds its cap would need to buy credits or reduce its emissions. In addition, uncapped sectors could sell offset credits for adopting practices and technologies that reduce emissions. HR 2454 treats agriculture as an uncapped sector,” NPPC says.

“America’s pork producers are intensely concerned over any policy proposals that will further raise the cost of production,” NPPC adds. “In particular, producers fear the impact that HR 2454 will have on the cost of electricity, diesel fuel, propane, animal health products, fertilizer, chemicals, farm equipment and materials such as steel and concrete that are necessary for the continued operation of their farms and well-being of their animals.

“Pork producers are already losing money for every pig sold – currently about $30/hog – and any additional costs will drive them deeper and more firmly into financial despair,” NPPC continues.

NPPC estimates energy and input costs would spike more than 20% under the proposed climate change legislation, and doesn’t believe that revenues from the sale of greenhouse gas offset credits will balance that increase. The organization is also wary of the impact legislation would have on pork producers’ ability to compete in world export markets.

Before the NPPC would support a climate change bill, a number of improvements must be made. The bill should designate the U.S. Department of Agriculture, not the Environmental Protection Agency, as the lead agency on developing and implementing the agricultural greenhouse gas offset credits program and on the development of any regulations affecting livestock producers.

The bill also needs to more clearly take into account the tremendous progress that livestock producers have already made in reducing their carbon footprint. Since 1990, agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions have increased only 3.5%, while U.S. meat production has increased 40%, NPPC states. Since 1948, manure generated by U.S. livestock has declined 25%, while meat production has climbed 700%.