Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2009
Winkles: Climate bill threatens food supply
By DAVID WINKLES - Guest Columnist
The Waxman-Markey climate bill offers a lot of enticing incentives for farmers in South Carolina and elsewhere, but I would encourage farmers to take more than a quick study of the American Clean Energy and Security Act to see the detrimental effects the bill can have on farmers and consumers.
Darlington farmer David White argued in a recent column ("Farmers need climate bill," Sept. 24) that farming and forestry play a positive role in reducing greenhouse gas reduction. I agree. He wrote of the positive impacts of enhancing "the role of our lands in lowering the carbon footprint of our nation's industrial sector." I agree.
But farmers must be careful not to sell out their future farming rights as called for in the Waxman-Markey bill. Under the bill, as much as 17 percent of U.S. agricultural land currently used for food production will be idled and planted in trees. That is because the vast majority of incentive payments will go to people who choose to grow and maintain trees for greenhouse gas reduction, rather than to those farmers who work to put food on American's tables. This shift in land use will hurt consumers at the grocery store by potentially causing food costs to rise by as much as $33 billion annually by 2020 and $51 billion annually by 2030. Read More
We’ve seen a lot of articles that have really focused on the rise in input costs for farming and ranching if the climate legislation were to pass, but this does a nice job of showing the impact on people that like to eat everyday. This bill would encourage landowners to take their property out of food production and plant it long term into timber. With the absolute need to grow more food in this world, this bill would do just the opposite of what’s needed. The increased cost of food will no doubt make agriculture’s job of feeding people much more difficult. I don’t think any bill, regardless of what it may accomplish, is worth causing more hungry people.