Corn growers want to see a mechanism in which they can sell carbon credits on a regulated market to help offset rising production costs from newly introduced climate change legislation, says Bob Dickey, the president of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA).

Dickey, a corn and hog producer from Nebraska, says the NCGA and other farm organizations have been expressing that view to members of Congress for some time. But the message doesn’t seem to be getting through.

Dickey was specifically referring to the new American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454) introduced recently by California Congressman Henry Waxman, the chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. The NCGA believes the current version could cause negative impacts for farmers if a “cap and trade system” is not structured properly.

“After reviewing the legislation, we can see the bill does not clearly provide for a mechanism by which corn growers can sell carbon credits on the market,” Dickey says. “We strongly believe the bill will increase input costs without specific opportunities to offset those additions.”

NCGA and a broad range of other agriculture organizations have compiled a list of nine key principles that highlight the potential opportunities for production agriculture in a market-based cap-and-trade system.

One suggests cap-and-trade legislation should fully recognize the wide range of carbon mitigation or sequestration benefits from agriculture. Recognizing this should allow farmers to earn the potential revenue from carbon sequestration trading to offset increased input costs of such items as diesel, fertilizer and steel. The current legislation does not mention ag offsets.

“In recent years, our grower members have seen increasingly higher input costs,” Dickey says. “Each year, growers must commit even more funds to put a crop in the ground, and it would be beneficial to have the opportunity to generate revenue from those greenhouse gas reduction practices.

“NCGA has been engaged in discussions surrounding this legislation for a long time,” Dickey says. “Our organization has met with several members of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and we fully appreciate their willingness to sit down and work with us on important issue. However, we cannot support this legislation in its current form.”