If you are worried about all of the day-to-day tasks of getting a crop in the ground, taking care of your livestock and making sure your lenders are getting paid on time, climate change legislation is probably the furthest thing from your mind. But like it or not, you probably need to add terms like "cap-and-trade," "offsets" and "emission allowances" to your vocabulary. Understanding these terms will probably have more to do with your long-term profitability than which variety to plant or whether or not you culled the right cow.

That's because, believe it or not--or like it or not--climate change legislation is moving through the House of Representatives like a steamroller, driven by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman. The two California Democrats want to demonstrate to the world that they can address global warming, even though they had to cut so many side deals with members from coal and oil producing states that the legislation is a far cry from the original package.

Although the far-reaching climate change bill is still a "work in progress" as we go to press, Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee told reporters they expect to have enough votes to move their bill, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, out of committee by the Memorial Day recess. In what has become typical fashion this year, Waxman released the whopping 932-page bill (H.R. 2454) on a Friday with a pledge to start marking it up on Monday--providing almost no time to read and comprehend the entire measure.

But thanks to modern technology, you can quickly search the legislation for words like "agriculture." As expected, the word is barely mentioned.

Ag should play a role?

So is that good news? Many think that agriculture should be a prominent player in any type of climate change legislation because so many agricultural and forestry practices can sequester carbon and be a big part of the solution. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, agriculture and forestry have the potential to reduce 15 to 25 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and provide new revenue streams for farmers and foresters in the process.

To read Sarah Wyant's entire column, link to the High Plains Journal.