Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack told Senators and the agriculture community this week that USDA analysis shows the economic benefits to agriculture from pending climate change legislation will likely outweigh costs in the short term and will “easily outpace” increased input costs over the long term.
The comments came as part of a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing on the role of agriculture and forestry in global warming legislation – the latest in a series of hearings in that chamber after the House approved H.R. 2454 in late June.
Vilsack’s remarks were based on USDA’s preliminary analysis of the effects of H.R. 2454, the public release of which was timed to coincide with the hearing. The analysis showed, among other things, a less than 1 percent decline in annual average net farm income from 2012 to 2018 compared to the baseline.
Vilsack told the Committee, in part:
“Of course, any analysis of the implications of climate change legislation…shows that the farm sector will experience both costs and benefits…Our analysis demonstrates that the economic opportunities for farmers and ranchers can potentially outpace – perhaps significantly – the costs from climate legislation.”
A number of Senators and many members of the agricultural community have been calling for the Department’s analysis of climate legislation’s potential effects, and some felt what was presented was insufficiently detailed.
On Thursday, Sens. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), and John Thune (R-S.D.) held a press conference to stress their assertion that the Committee should hold more hearings on the issue, calling the USDA analysis “largely insufficient” and too broad. On Friday, nine Republican Senators led by Agriculture Ranking Member Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) wrote Dr. Joseph Glauber, USDA’s chief economist, asking him to brief the Committee more fully on the analysis’ implications.
A number of resources on potential costs and benefits of H.R. 2454 are available online:
- USDA’s full preliminarily analysis is at http://www.usda.gov/oce/newsroom/archives/releases/2009files/HR2454.pdf
- Economic analysis prepared by the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) about the effects of H.R. 2454 on Missouri crop production costs is at http://www.fapri.missouri.edu/outreach/publications/2009/FAPRI_MU_Report_05_09.pdf
- An overview of the costs and benefits U.S. agriculture could expect from climate change policy by Bruce Babcock at Iowa State University is at http://www.card.iastate.edu/iowa_ag_review/summer_09/article1.aspx
A rebroadcast of the full hearing and prepared witness testimony are available online at http://agriculture.senate.gov/