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Published October 23, 2009, 12:00 AM

American farmers: Don’t cap our future

American Farm Bureau Federation recently kicked off a climate change grass-roots campaign appropriately titled “Don’t Cap Our Future.”

By: Bob Stallman, Bemidji Pioneer

American Farm Bureau Federation recently kicked off a climate change grass-roots campaign appropriately titled “Don’t Cap Our Future.”

Farm Bureau members are getting out the word on Capitol Hill that cap-and-trade legislation would impose higher energy and food costs on consumers, raise fuel, fertilizer and energy costs for farmers and ranchers, and shrink the American agricultural sector, resulting in reduced U.S. food production.

The consequences of climate legislation far outweigh the benefits and aren’t worth capping America’s future.

Under the cap-and-trade legislation in the House and Senate, American families will pay higher energy costs. According to the Department of Energy, energy costs could grow by $1,870 per household. Combined with higher costs for food, the additional yearly hit on families would total about $2,300 per household. Said another way, the cap-and-trade law would impose costs of up to $200 billion a year on American taxpayers.

At the farm gate, as much as 17 percent of U.S. agricultural land currently used for food production will be idled and planted in trees under the House bill. That is because the vast majority of incentive payments will go to people who choose to grow and maintain trees for greenhouse gas reduction, rather than farmers who work to put food on Americans’ tables. This shift in land use will hurt consumers at the grocery store. Food costs could rise by up to an average of $33 billion annually in 2020 and up to $51 billion annually by 2030 as a result of this legislation.

Higher fuel and fertilizer costs to American farmers and ranchers who do remain on the farm will put them at a competitive disadvantage in international markets with other countries that do not have similar carbon emission restrictions.

Farmers and ranchers, along with many American taxpayers are saying enough. That’s why Farm Bureau has launched the “Don’t Cap Our Future” campaign. With the familiar farmer’s cap driving our efforts, the effort is a traditional grass-roots approach that involves sending cards and letters to members of Congress, and hand-delivering farm caps to congressional offices at the state level. Farm Bureau members nationwide will be voicing opposition to climate legislation.

My goal is to engage at least 2 percent of Farm Bureau members. I am personally asking members to sign a new farm cap on its bill (if you are like me, you have a lot of unused caps in your closet) and hand-deliver it to a member of Congress with the message “Don’t Cap Our Future.”

For the future prosperity of the U.S. economy and American agriculture, climate change legislation must be defeated by Congress. For more information on the “Don’t Cap Our Future” campaign, visit: www.fbactinsider.org.

Bob Stallman is president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.

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