Climate change legislation unveiled last week (H.R. 2454) “ignores the complex needs of a very diverse U.S. agricultural industry” and will draw opposition from the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF).

In a letter to members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, AFBF President Bob Stallman says that while the bill does not include agriculture under the greenhouse gas cap provisions, in other respects, the bill fails to include key principles AFBF identified as critical to U.S. agriculture.

“We have consistently advocated that any cap-and-trade bill must: recognize and support the benefits agriculture can provide, make economic sense for agriculture, provide for a strong leadership role for USDA and base any carbon sequestration program on sound science,” the letter states.

According to Stallman, some sectors of the economy were accommodated as the legislation was crafted, yet the bill ignores the complex needs of American agriculture.

“The (bill) is laden with so many policy prescriptions that its impact on the U.S. is almost impossible to measure and evaluate,” Stallman says. “We can be certain of some things, however – it will increase our operating costs and reduce our competitiveness abroad.”

According to Stallman, the measure does not adequately provide for alternative sources of energy that will “plug the hole” created when fossil fuel costs escalate dramatically. AFBF is also concerned about the potential impact on fertilizer prices, given their sensitivity to natural gas costs.

“The bill would effectively lock the U.S. into these changes regardless of what is done by other countries, such as China and India,” Stallman says. “Such an approach is little more than gambling with U.S. jobs and productivity. Taken as a whole, the bill falls far short of what is necessary for agriculture to survive and grow.”