U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Ranking Republican Member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, today heard testimony during a full committee hearing on the role of agriculture and forestry in global warming legislation. In his opening statement, Sen. Chambliss outlined several concerns he has with the House-passed American Clean Energy and Security Act and the tremendous costs associated with its provisions. Sen. Chambliss said the cap and trade program will undoubtedly raise production costs for farmers and ranchers.
"Agriculture is an energy intensive industry, and the chief purpose of the Waxman-Markey and Boxer bills is to raise the price of energy. It is an irrefutable fact," said Sen. Chambliss. "I have asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Texas A&M University to conduct economic analyses of the bill, with special attention to the effects at the farm gate level and to consumers. What we have seen of preliminary study results is that no farm will escape the effect of this bill."
According to the Farm Bureau, by the time this bill is fully implemented farm income will drop $5 billion compared to the baseline. The National Cotton Council says cotton producers will see $300 to 400 million in increased production costs, rice producers will see their costs increase $80 to $150 per acre and Farm Bureau estimates corn and soybean farmers will see their costs increase over $20 per acre by 2020.
"Like most of my Senate colleagues, I want to support a bill that provides greater energy security for Americans and addresses climate change," said Sen. Chambliss. "Unfortunately, the House bill is not the answer. I want to support a bill that creates all kinds of jobs, not just green jobs. That bill should also reflect the realities of producing food, fiber, feed, and fuel in the United States and recognize the unique aspects of rural America. I support greater energy conservation and efficiency. I support the development of nuclear energy, renewable and alternative energy sources, and new drilling. We can do all of these things while addressing the environmental aspects of energy production and use. I'm ready to work with any of my colleagues who share similar goals."
In closing, Sen. Chambliss requested that Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) consider holding more hearings to better understand the climate change issue the effects on agriculture, forestry and rural America. Sen. Chambliss also recommended careful review of the role of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission under a cap and trade program.