The climate change legislation now before the Senate has succeeded in doing something neither the nation’s environmental groups or the Bush administration could do: Create fault lines in the farm bloc.
The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, also known as the Waxman-Markey bill, H.R. 2454, is drawing decidedly mixed reviews from farm organizations. Some are condemning the bill outright, some seeking significant changes and others are behind it all the way.
The American Farm Bureau Federation has taken dead aim at the legislation, which passed the House by a narrow margin (219-212), with AFBF President Bob Stallman recently characterizing it as “embarking on a fool’s errand,” if the United States tries to go it alone on solving the problem.
On the other side of the spectrum, the National Farmers Union and American Farmland Trust have been throwing their lobbying efforts behind the legislation, with the AFT claiming its passage would “usher in a new agricultural era.”
More mainstream commodity groups like the National Corn Growers Association, on the other hand, have more cautious. NCGA President Bob Dickey recently issued a statement saying his organization wants to be “at the table and not on the table” during deliberations.
All of those stood shoulder to shoulder during the nearly two years of debate on the 2008 farm bill despite efforts by environmental groups and Bush administration officials to pit them against each other. While they seemingly remain united on most issues, their leaders are staking out tough positions on Waxman-Markey.
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