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Ag Groups Urge USDA, EPA to Improve Climate Bill Modeling
USAgNet - 06/01/2010

Eight agricultural groups wrote Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack last week, asking them to ensure that their departments' future analysis of proposals to limit greenhouse gas emissions accurately reflects the provisions of bills Congress is considering.

Previous analysis by EPA and USDA has been done with a model known as FASOM, which has limits widely acknowledged by many in the agriculture community, including USDA's Chief Economist Joe Glauber. Making matters worse, prior studies have generally looked at generic climate change policy, versus specific provisions proposed in Congress.

The groups noted particular concern that climate change policy analysis previously issued did not take into account all of the offset types included in a bill passed by the House last summer or in more recent proposals.

Offset types rejected from the analysis included such things as conservation tillage, changes in fertilizer applications and alternative manure management systems. By not taking greenhouse gas reductions from these practices into account, the model skewed both the projections of money to be made through carbon markets and the estimates of forest land needed to sequester the desired amount of carbon.

The most recent climate and energy proposal, from Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), was introduced this month and is being looked at now by EPA, USDA and other government agencies. The groups writing on Wednesday specifically urged that EPA and USDA work together and with the agriculture community to ensure a quality analysis of the Kerry-Lieberman proposal so all involved can accurately assess its likely effects if approved.

Signatories of the letter included National Association of Wheat Growers, Agricultural Carbon Market Working Group, American Farmland Trust, International Biochar Initiative, National Corn Growers Association, National Farmers Union, National Milk Producers Federation and The Fertilizer Institute.

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