In testimony before the House Committee on Small Business today National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson said farmers and ranchers have a significant role to play in addressing the energy and environmental challenges facing our nation.
"NFU believes the flexibility of a cap-and-trade program holds the most promise in making actual greenhouse-gas emissions reductions while mitigating the overall energy cost increases that would result from such a program," Johnson said.
NFU policy supports a national, mandatory carbon emission cap-and-trade system, with an optional agricultural offset program, to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. "The income potential from an agriculture offset program is a real opportunity for our farmers and ranchers who will be faced with increased input costs," Johnson said.
The Environmental Protection Agency recently issued a proposed endangerment finding which reported greenhouse-gas emissions are a threat to public health. Johnson said NFU believes a purely regulatory approach will increase energy input costs without the benefits of carbon offset opportunities and urged a comprehensive legislative approach be taken when addressing climate change.
Johnson said the voluntary Farmers Union Carbon Credit Program has taught NFU valuable lessons on how to properly construct a cap-and-trade program. He said the program demonstrates the commitment America's farmers and ranchers have to protecting the environment.
"Long before climate change legislation was a common coffee shop topic or seriously debated in Congress, NFU emerged as a leading voice for how agriculture can play a significant role in combating global climate change," Johnson said. "Our members were early to recognize and acknowledge the negative effects climate change has on domestic food and fiber production."
Currently, NFU is the largest aggregator of agriculture carbon credits on the Chicago Climate Exchange. The program has more than five million acres enrolled across 31 states and nearly $9.5 million has been earned for the almost 4,000 producers participating.
To read the testimony, click here.