The National Corn Growers Association recently recognized U.S. Rep. Zack Space, D-Dover, for carrying two important amendments to H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act. The bill was passed out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee last week.
Space’s participation was certainly influenced by the Ohio Corn Growers Association and the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation. Both groups have taken the position that legislation on greenhouse gases is inevitable and agriculture needs to be viewed as part of the solution more than part of the problem.
Space was successful in convincing the House Energy and Commerce Committee to include an amendment that would credit farmers who have been using carbon-storing practices like no-till. The Corn Growers and others had expressed concern that early adapters of this technology might not be included if the legislation only recognized recent changes in production practices.
Ohioan Bill Richards, a farmer from Circleville, has also been active in the process as co-chair of the 25X’25 group. The organization has been urging Americans to rely on renewable farm fuels for 25% of their energy needs by 2025. A longtime no-till proponent, Richards has helped steer 25X’25 to support the role of long term no-tillers in greenhouse gas regulation. Much of the best recognized work in the field has come from Rattan Lal, agronomist at OSU.
“Lal’s work shows the role no-till plays in carbon sequestration,” Richards says. “We need to make sure agriculture is not left out of this plan.”
Fred Yoder, former president of the National Corn Growers Association, has also stepped up to influence this legislation. “President Obama will give the keynote address at the international climate change conference next December,” Yoder says. “The president has said he wants legislation on greenhouse gas. So it is coming.”
Yoder spent a day testifying to the Energy and Commerce Committee about agriculture’s role in carbon sequestration. He made the case for offsets which would enable farmers to be paid for carbon sequestering practices like no-till. Space carried that concept to the committee in a second amendment to the bill. Although this one was not included in the proposed legislation, Chairman Henry Waxman, D-California, did offer assurances that agriculture would be a part of the final package.
Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, has been working with Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan, to include such language in the Senate version of the bill.