Sen. Kerry pitches climate bill as rich opportunity for the country – & for farmers

By Jon H. Harsch

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Washington, May 12 – In his press conference to unveil the Kerry-Lieberman climate bill Wednesday, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) said he worked closely with Sens. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) to craft a bill which he believes will “create great wealth for agriculture.”

Kerry pointed out that the bill “only covers about 2% of America’s businesses, only 7,500 entities in America come under this bill. Small business is exempt. Agriculture is exempt.”

Kerry said “that 2% that comes under the bill equals about 75% of America’s greenhouse gas emissions.” He added that companies at the press conference to support the legislation, including Dow Corning, Dow Chemical, Honeywell, and Florida Power & Light “know that this is good policy for them because it gives them certainty about where it’s going to go over the next 20, 30 years and it gives them the ability to have a business plan which makes sense for them where they know they can create jobs.”

Kerry said that because “countless companies. . . have already reduced their emissions 20 and 30 and 40 percent and they’re making money doing it,” he convinced the climate bill will work and that “agriculture is not going to get hurt by this, they’re going to get helped.”


Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) at the lectern, with Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) to the left, surrounded by energy
industry and environmental group leaders. Photo: Agri-Pulse

Kerry’s not alone in seeing opportunity for agriculture. National Farmers Union wasn’t on stage with Kerry, Lieberman and energy industry executives Wednesday but quickly issued a supportive statement. NFU President Roger Johnson said that “NFU has long supported legislation that provides an opportunity for agriculture to play a positive role in addressing our climate and energy needs. The discussion draft announced today by Senator Kerry and Senator Lieberman continues along that path. The senators and their staff have produced legislation that recognizes the key role of agriculture in mitigating greenhouse gases, strongly supports the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s role in overseeing and administering agriculture offsets, and provides agriculture an exemption from EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) regulation for carbon pollution. These are very positive steps in the right direction.”
Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) commented that “I look forward to examining the proposal from Senators Kerry and Lieberman and applaud their efforts towards finding a workable solution in the Senate. As Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, a critical piece of this process for me will be having an accurate analysis on the bill’s economic impacts on agriculture and rural America. I look forward to reviewing the analysis being conducted by EPA, as well as other economic studies that will examine the bill.”  

National Corn Growers Association President Darrin Ihnen commented that “The National Corn Growers Association is reviewing the discussion draft of the American Power Act released today by Senators John Kerry and Joe Lieberman. We have provided input to the Senate over the past several months on provisions pertaining to the agriculture industry and we will continue to offer feedback after we have a chance to review the text of this important piece of legislation.”

Ihnen noted further that “NCGA could not support the Waxman-Markey bill on the House side due to the potential adverse economic impacts on corn growers. In light of that, we will once again conduct an analysis of the new Senate version of climate legislation before taking a position on the Kerry-Lieberman proposal. We will also wait for the official analysis from the Environmental Protection Agency in the coming weeks.

To read the actual Kerry-Liberman climate bill along with bill summaries, go to: For more coverage of the bill, go to:

To return to the News Index page, click: