WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Food, Nutrition and Family Farms, attended an Agriculture Committee hearing today entitled “The Role of Agriculture and Forestry in Global Warming Legislation.” At the hearing, Brown outlined how clean energy legislation should work for family farmers.
The hearing comes on the heels of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) economic analysis released today showing that the economic benefits to agriculture from the climate change legislation will likely outweigh the costs in the short term, with lasting long-term economic benefits.
A copy of Brown’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, follows.
As the first Senator from Ohio in nearly forty years to serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee, I am proud to represent Ohio’s farmers and agricultural industry.
Agriculture remains the number one industry in Ohio, though much has changed since I helped milk cows on my family’s dairy farm near Mansfield. Today’s farmers are participating in a global market with countless competitors, and not only are they expected to feed the world, but also to satisfy its growing demand for energy.
Over the past three years, I’ve held roundtables in all 88 counties in Ohio. These roundtables allowed me to meet face-to-face with the farmers who will be affected by climate legislation. By listening to the personal stories of family farmers, I gained a greater understanding of the challenges and opportunities we face as an agricultural state—and what Ohio agriculture needs to remain strong.
During these roundtables, I met with corn and soybean farmers in Henry County who will be supplying corn to one of the first ethanol plants in Ohio, and a Montgomery County hog farmer who invested in wind turbines to provide on-farm energy. I spoke with dairy farmers in Wayne County who talked about the opportunities to cap their manure pit and turn the methane into electricity.
As we consider climate change legislation, we must carefully balance the costs and benefits of the legislation and keep health of American agriculture in mind.
Family farmers must be exempt from a cap on greenhouse gases but remain eligible for a strong and viable offsets market. USDA should have the primary role in administering this agricultural offsets policy, which if done right, could provide farmers a new market worth as much 3 billion dollars annually in the first few years and as much as 9 billion dollars by 2030.
This legislation must work for states like Ohio and that means it must work for the farmers of Ohio. We have a rich agricultural history in Ohio and a bright future. I will continue to work to ensure that it stays that way.