Climate Change Legislation Hot Topic at Ag Issues Forum

Amanda Nolz

It was standing room only in the First National Bank South Dakota Pavillion for the Agriculture Issues Panel featuring Senator John Thune, Representative Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin, South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture Bill Even, State Director of Farm Service Agency (FSA) Schaunaman and Michelle Rook of WNAX as the moderator.

And, the main topic of discussion: climate change legislation. The Waxman-Markey Bill (HR 2454), better known as the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, passed the U.S. House of Representatives on June 26, 2009. While the bill seems to have noble intentions to clean up the environment, it has the agriculture community worried about the implications this bill will have on the nation’s food producers. Senator Thune and Representative Herseth-Sandlin weighed in on this important bill.

IMG_2696 “I will work with every fiber of my being to defeat the bill that passed in the House,” promised Senator Thune. “I think we should all be in favor of cleaning up the environment, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of the American farmer and rancher. Let me make this point clear: We can’t quantify the benefits of cap-and-trade legislation, but we all know how much it’s going to cost us.”

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“There is no doubt that we need to do something about climate change,” said Representative Herseth-Sandlin. “I did not vote for HR 2454 as it was written, and the bill has absolutely no chance of passing the Senate in its current form. I believe we need to have a production title to offset the costs for cap-and-trade. This shouldn’t be a patchwork quilt of regulations. We need to slow the process down a bit and do this bill right. I share the same concerns as Senator Thune, but there are people that believe carbon sequestration could be beneficial to agriculture. So, let’s work together to make sure this bill doesn’t harm the agriculture industry.”

So, what’s your take on this climate change bill? What are the benefits? How will it harm agriculture? It’s time for a good discussion, don’t you think?

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