Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack testified before the Senate Agriculture Committee that agriculture would benefit economically from the proposed climate change legislation recently passed by the House of Representatives. Vilsack said that USDA’s economic analysis shows that the economic benefits to agriculture from the cap and trade legislation would “likely outweigh the costs in the short term, and the economic benefits from offsets markets will easily outpace increased input costs over the long term.” He stated that the legislation’s creation of an offset market will “create opportunities for the agricultural sector. In particular, our analysis indicates that annual net returns to farmers range from about $1 billion per year in 2015-20 to almost $15-20 billion in 2040-50, not accounting for the costs of implementing offset practices.”

Food & Feed Concerns with Climate Change — A coalition of food, feed, ingredient, beverage and consumer product associations have outlined its principles for climate legislation. The coalition indicated that the facilities it represents emit approximately 2% of the nation’s greenhouse gases, but are disproportionately vulnerable to indirect costs. The principles outlined are:

• Allowances – The distribution of allowances should be based on an industry’s historic emissions and additional allowances should be distributed to reflect early action reductions in emissions between 2000 and 2012.
• Threshold – If a cap is adopted, Environmental Protection Agency should not be authorized to lower the threshold for the cap in the future, or use the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from sources beneath that threshold.
• Offsets – A viable offset system is essential to contain costs.
• Preemption – Comprehensive climate legislation should preempt or, if necessary, harmonize state and regional climate programs.
• Trade – Climate legislation should be contingent on Senate ratification of an international commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that includes all major sources of emissions and should not authorize the administration to place border measures on foods imported from other nations that do not have equally stringent limits on greenhouse gas emissions. Those organizations signing the letter included: American Feed Industry Association, American Meat Institute, Grocery Manufacturers Association, National Chicken Council, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Grain and Feed Association, National Meat Association, National Oilseed Processors Association, National Turkey Federation and the National American Miller’s Association.

Midwest Governors Call for Higher Ethanol Blends — Ten midwestern governors have written Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson requesting that ethanol blending levels be increased to 15%. Governor Jennifer Granholm (D-MI), chair of the Midwestern Governors Association (MGA), said, “The Midwest has vast natural resources, the scientific know-how and the skilled workforce necessary to lead the world in the production of climate-friendly biofuels.” Governor Mike Rounds (R-SD), immediate past chair of the MGA, said, “Increasing the amount of ethanol blended into gasoline is an important step that will have dramatic, positive effects on advancement of the renewable fuels industry.” Besides Granholm and Rounds, other governors signing the letter included Pat Quinn (IL), Mitch Daniels (IN), Chet Culver (IA), Mark Parkinson (KS), Tim Pawlenty (MN), John Hoeven (ND), Ted Strickland (OH) and Jim Doyle (WI).

Hot Dog Warning Labels — The Cancer Project filed a lawsuit in New Jersey asking the court to require hot dog manufacturers to put a “cancer warning” label on packages. The group wants the label to read: “Warning: Consuming hot dogs and other processed meats increases the risk of cancer.” The American Meat Institute (AMI) said, “We hope the court will move quickly to review the science affirming the safety of hot dogs and processed meats and dismiss this lawsuit.” The Cancer Project is a branch of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

P. Scott Shearer
Vice President
Bockorny Group
Washington, D.C.