“The one thing I hope for producers: that they understand if these carbon rules are put in place, the land will be saturated with carbon contracts and they won’t be able to get paid for carbon sequestration. So, if they want to work with the program, they want to do it when the prices are higher — but don’t wait too long.”

A late-summer study by the Agricultural and Food Policy Center at Texas A&M University shows the South would be worse off under proposed climate legislation. Actually, outside some Midwest grain farms, few farmers would benefit.

In September, Delta Farm Press spoke with Joe Outlaw, co-director of AFPC, about a recent study. Outlaw was careful to explain the parameters and assumptions of the report. Among his comments:

How long did it take to put this together at Chambliss’ request? Had you done any preliminary work on this prior to his asking?

“We’d been thinking about it and pulling together information on what it would take to get carbon credits under the voluntary program. But, as I told the folks on Capitol Hill, this isn’t what we normally do.

“It took us three months, or more, to put together the report. We’ve been doing this for about 20 years and this one was the hardest we’ve ever done.”

Do the findings surprise you at all?

“Everything we did was based on the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) analysis. If they’re wrong, then our findings are completely wrong. We used their numbers for the prices used to drive everything — carbon prices, commodity prices, energy costs.”

“Your readers need to understand what we did. We assumed that the ranches would be left out completely and won’t get any benefits. But, as was stated in the paper, ranches can get in there. However, they must leave a lot of available forage to show they’re sequestering carbon and we didn’t think that would be an economic advantage for them. It wouldn’t be viable for them to cut back 30 to 50 percent of their herds to get carbon credits.

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