Food costs would increase by $2,300 per household
By CHUCK HARVEY
For the Capital Press
ANAHEIM -- Carbon emissions legislation in both houses of Congress could make fruit and vegetable prices unpalatable for many Americans, choke government efforts to improve nutrition programs prioritized under the new farm bill and force replacement of large chunks of farmland with forests.
That is the belief of Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. Stallman, speaking at the California Farm Bureau annual meeting in Anaheim Dec. 7, addressed proposed Senate and House bills aimed at reducing carbon emissions, Waxman-Markey HR2454 and the Kerry-Boxer Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act in the Senate.
Stallman also discussed the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, which he said had untenable emission level requirements. Emissions must be reduced to 1990 levels by 2020.
"Farmers in other states certainly don't envy you in California," Stallman said. "It is no secret that you are faced with the greatest environmental regulations of any state in the country."
He said the federal legislation, if approved, would boost food costs by about $33 billion by 2020 and $51 billion by 2030.
"That is why we need your support for Farm Bureau's national campaign to defeat federal climate change legislation," Stallman told the audience. The campaign is called "Don't Cap Our Future."
At the consumer level, annual food costs would increase by about $2,300 per household, Stallman said.
Stallman warned that under the House bill, as much as 17 percent of U.S. land used for food production would be idled and planted in trees. And trees planted would not necessary be fruit or nut trees.
"Most incentive payments will go to people who choose to grow and maintain trees for greenhouse (gas) reduction, rather than food producers," Stallman said.
Stallman said both bills before Congress would increase energy costs, which translates into higher food costs for consumers. The legislation would also lead to higher fertilizer costs, he said, adding that the legislation has no provision for replacing the energy deficit that would be created. In addition, American producers would be put at a competitive disadvantage with other countries, Stallman said.
He cautioned that federal carbon control legislation could be counterproductive to some programs receiving additional funding under the new farm bill, also known as the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008. The new farm bill provides an extra $10.4 billion for food and nutrition programs, an extra $4 billion for conservation programs and an extra $2.3 billion for specialty-crop programs.
The House bill would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent, compared to 2005 levels in 2020; by 42 percent in 2030 and by 83 percent in 2050. Supporters of the bill say it would break America's dependence on foreign oil, make the U.S. the world leader in clean energy jobs and technology, cut global warming pollution and promote energy security.