The benefits of precision farming to help capture carbon in farm fields is receiving press within the current debate of the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy & Security Act, a.k.a. (HR2454).
While controversy surrounds this bill on several fronts–from lack of offset inclusion for agriculture to larger energy costs being pushed back to consumers–North Dakota farmer and National Farmers Union (NFU) president sees farmer benefits in cap and trade.
In a recent Wichita Eagle story, Johnson thinks farmers should be allowed to sell greenhouse-gas offsets to help pay for input costs that he says will be driven up by proposed climate change legislation.
We want farmers to have an income opportunity out of cap and trade,” said Johnson, whose group has approximately 250,000 members nationally, including about 7,500 in Kansas.
Johnson said farmers will need the additional income because more emission control devices will cause fuel and fertilizer prices to increase, which will push up ag input costs.
But Johnson is concerned about the Waxman-Markey bill, climate change legislation under review by House committees that would establish this country’s first mandatory cap-and-trade regulations.
As the bill stands now, there is no provision for agriculture to sell offsets.
He said it’s important that the U.S. Department of Agriculture — and not the Environmental Protection Agency — regulate ag offsets because the USDA has done the most scientific research on ag greenhouse emissions.
As proposed in the bill, companies that emit more than 25,000 tons of greenhouse gases per year would fall under cap-and-trade regulations. Very large manufacturers and energy companies most often fall into that category.
Johnson said it has been estimated that 30 to 50 percent of the nation’s economy will come from industries that will fall under the cap regulations.
With perhaps the exception of about 30 very large feedlots, agriculture is not part of that group, said Chuck Rice, a Kansas State University soil microbiologist and an expert on cap and trade.