The American Soybean Association (ASA) recently issued a paper outlining its concerns and issues for climate change legislation. ASA believes that climate change legislation passed by the House of Representatives and the current draft Senate climate change bill do not provide sufficient measures to protect American economic competitiveness, and ASA does not support those measures in their current form.

ASA is issuing its detailed position paper as the Senate continues work on climate change legislation in the Environment and Public Works Committee and considers the potential for future hearings and mark-ups by the Senate Agriculture and other committees of jurisdiction.

"ASA is concerned with the impacts that could result from enactment of climate change legislation that unilaterally subjects U.S. farmers, manufacturers and other businesses to emissions caps and increased energy costs without appropriate measures to ensure that the U.S. maintains economic competitiveness," says ASA President Johnny Dodson, a soybean producer from Halls, TN. "ASA recognizes that inaction on energy and environmental issues may also have consequences and that absent legislation, potential regulatory action by the Environmental Protection Agency may be a more onerous and costly method of addressing the issues."

If Congress moves to enact climate change legislation, ASA believes it must be structured in a manner that will achieve the desired benefits while maintaining the viability of the U.S. economy and domestic food supply, including U.S. farmers and livestock producers, food and feed processors and our communities.

"Any cap and trade legislation must provide stability, promote the global competitiveness of U.S. agriculture and not diminish our ability to supply U.S. and foreign consumers with abundant food, feed, fiber and renewable fuel," Dodson says.

ASA’s priorities for climate change legislation include:

  • Exempting America’s two million farm and ranch operations from any emissions cap
  • Making implementation of any U.S. climate change legislation contingent upon meaningful participation by major emitting countries, including major developing countries and our foreign competitors, in an international agreement to cap greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
  • Ensuring that the legislation complies with our trade obligations
  • Provision of allowances to food and feed processors, including soybean processing facilities
  • Funding for a more energy- and cost-efficient transportation system
  • Long-term extension of the biodiesel tax incentive
  • Corrections to flawed and untested indirect land use calculations and unnecessary feedstock certification requirements in the EPA’s rules governing the Renewable Fuel Standard
  • Providing funding from emission allowances for research and development programs at the USDA, specifically the National Institute for Food and Agriculture, to support research on all aspects of agricultural productivity, including food security, bioenergy, environment and natural resources
  • A number of specific recommendations for a workable agricultural offset program, including provisions that target offsets toward practices that will allow working lands to remain in production

"If Congress moves to enact climate change legislation, ASA believes that safeguards need to be included to ensure that U.S. farmland, which is the most productive land in the world, is not idled or afforested in response to carbon sequestration incentives," Dodson says. "Doing so would reduce U.S. and global food security, increase food prices for the poor and increase the United States’ reliance on food imports from countries that may not be participating in a greenhouse gas emissions program."

ASA’s detailed position paper outlining concerns and issues for climate change legislation is available.