Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Farmers want climate legislation to compensate them for carbon-storage measures already taken

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told agricultural journalists yesterday that farmers stand to gain from legislation to limit climate change, but details of how much they will get paid for preventing emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases has not yet been worked out.

"One of the biggest issues for farm organizations is whether farmers can earn credits for measures they've taken before the passage of the law," writes Philip Brasher of The Des Moines Register. "Many farmers in Iowa and other parts of the Midwest have reduced tillage and, in some cases, earn pay through a voluntary credit exchange." Vilsack said payments to farmers depend largely on whether greenhouse-gas allowances, sometimes called carbon credits, are sold or given away to polluters.

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said climate legislation could be "punitive to agriculture" unless farmers can get paid for past practices. "Some agricultural groups, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, have expressed skepticism that the higher energy and fertilizer costs that result from climate legislation could outweigh potential benefits," adds Brasher. "Winning over agricultural interests is viewed by many advocates of climate legislation as critical to getting a bill through Congress." (Read more)

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