Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN), chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, wants to slow the pace of the debate over the Waxman-Markey bill that would put carbon cap and trade legislation in place.

In a call to attendees of the recent Texas Ag Forum on Climate Change, Carbon Credits and Agriculture in Austin, Peterson said he believes the push for cap and trade is an attempt to put environmentalists in control of agriculture so they “can tell us what to do. I will not agree to that.

“We have pressure to move on this right away but I don’t think it’s ready. Committee members are gun shy and will need to see the language for several days before they make a decision. If I’m not comfortable with it, they’ll have to pass it without me.”

Peterson says ag will be better off with a carbon tax.
He also has trouble with language in the proposal relative to indirect land use applied to analyses of ethanol production and incentives. “It needs more study. I want (that language) out.”

Peterson said all fuels should be treated equally in the bill. He’s also adamant that EPA “should not be involved. We also want offsets to work for farmers, and producers who cannot participate in offsets, such as rice and fruit and vegetable producers, should have payment options.”

He said the House Ag Committee needs to hear from farm groups on the issue as soon as possible, particularly rice and livestock associations. He said a methane charge on livestock is not likely but producers will face higher costs from increased energy and grain prices under the cap and trade proposal.

Late Tuesday, Peterson released the following statement regarding an agreement with House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman on the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009.

"We have reached an agreement that works for agriculture and contributes to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. The climate change bill will include a strong agriculture offset program run by USDA that will allow farmers, ranchers and forestland owners to participate fully in a market-based carbon offset program. This agreement also addresses concerns about international indirect land use provisions that unfairly restricted U.S. biofuels producers and exempts agriculture and forestry from the definition of a capped sector."
-- Ron Smith, Farm Press