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Climate Change Far Greater Threat to Farmers Than Climate Legislation

For Immediate Release: 
Wednesday, October 7, 2009

WASHINGTON October 7 - Farm industry leaders and their supporters in Congress are trying to derail climate change legislation by insisting that the House-passed bill, the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES), will cause ruinous increases in the costs of production for farmers. They claim this threat is so potentially devastating that climate change legislation should be shelved or loaded up with concessions that send more money to their agricultural constituents.

But a new analysis by the Environmental Working Group of US Department of Agriculture cost estimates finds that the projected increased costs of production due to the climate bill will be so small - $0.45 per acre for soybeans, $0.66 per acre for wheat, and $1.19 per acre for corn, for example - that they amount to well under one half of one percent of current production costs.

The EWG report, Crying Wolf, concludes that a fertilizer spreader or chemical sprayer that is a bit out of adjustment would cost farmers more. Moreover, the added costs pale compared to the federal government's taxpayer-funded, multi-billion-dollar commodity subsidies.

"Climate change will cost farmers far more in lower yields and greater expense to protect their crops than the climate bill," said EWG Midwest vice-president Craig Cox, co-author of the report. "Farm groups should be working for a bill that protects agriculture's productivity, our food supply, and our environment instead of 'crying wolf' about the cost of the climate bill."

"The costs of legislation to protect farmers against crippling drought, volatile weather and increased pest and disease outbreaks are so small that they would be lost in the background noise caused by annual swings in farm income from yield variation, crop prices, and the cost of seed and chemicals," Cox said. "Congress must pass a climate bill that slows climate change and puts money on the table to help farmers cope with threats they will face from a warmer and more unpredictable climate."

Crying Wolf is the inaugural report on EWG's new agriculture- and environment-themed web property, AgMag.

"AgMag is EWG's online chronicle of agriculture and the environment. We'll bring bulletproof analysis and in-depth investigations into the science and politics of food, water, farming and the environment -- and the money and politics that make them go," Cox said of the new site. "AgMag will deliver a clear-eyed and new look at our increasingly complex, and global, 21st century food system."

Go here for the full Crying Wolf report: www.ewg.org/agmag/

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EWG is a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, DC that uses the power of information to protect human health and the environment. EWG's farm subsidy database and related reports and analysis can be found at www.ewg.org/agmag/

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