Sen. Stabenow's legislation called a 'positive step'

By WES SANDER

Capital Press

Six farm groups have declared support for a bill to add an agriculture-specific offsets program to Senate legislation addressing climate change.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and five co-sponsors introduced the legislation on Nov. 4.

In a letter sent to the bill's co-sponsors, the farm groups praised the bill's proposals to award carbon-reduction efforts on farms with tradable carbon credits.

The letter was signed by the National Association of Wheat Growers, National Corn Growers Association, National Farmers Union, National Milk Producers Federation, National Alfalfa & Forage Association and American Farmland Trust.

It called Stabenow's legislation "a positive step toward developing a workable and beneficial agricultural offsets program in the U.S.

"It is imperative that legislation be structured in such a way that the value for farmers and ranchers exceeds potential costs," the letter said.

Climate legislation in the Senate, sponsored by Sens. Barbara Boxer, D-California, and John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, has cleared its first committee, the Environment and Public Works committee, over a Republican boycott of the vote.

Among the panel's Democrats, only Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat and chair of the finance committee, voted against it.

Since the committee vote, talk among both parties has turned to an alternative to the Boxer-Kerry bill.

Senators have said no further committee action will take place on the climate bill this year, and it remains unclear whether the agriculture committee will take it up.

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