Largest U. S. Farm Group Rallies Against Climate Bill

The largest U. S. farm group will oppose aggressively “misguided” climate legislation pending in Congress and fight animal rights activists, said American Farm Bureau Federation president Bob Stallman Jan. 10.

In a speech opening the four-day AFBF convention, Stallman said American farmers and ranchers “must aggressively respond to extremists” and “misguided, activist-driven regulation … The days of their elitist power grabs are over.”

Stallman’s remarks held a sharper edge than usual for the six-million-member AFBF, the largest U. S. farm group and often described as the most influential. Its convention opens a string of wintertime meetings where farm groups take positions on public issues.

Climate legislation passed by the U. S. House of Representatives aims for a 17 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 compared to 2005 levels. Senators are expected to draft a similar bill this year. Both envision a cap-and-trade system to curb emissions from factories and power plants and to allow the purchase of offsets.

Vast amounts of farmland could become carbon-capturing woodlands under cap-and-trade, “eliminating about 130,000 farms and ranches,” said Stallman. One federal analysis says eight per cent of crop and pasture land could be turned into trees by 2050 because trees would be more profitable than crops.

Four dozen climate scientists wrote Stallman last week to argue AFBF divorce itself from “climate change deniers.” AFBF opposed the House bill.

Animal rights activists would “destroy our ability to produce the meat that Americans want to eat,” Stallman said, by barring modern production methods.

The Ohio Farm Bureau led a successful referendum last fall to create a 13-member state board, with strong farm representation, to set livestock-handling rules. The vote pre-empted an expected drive this year to ban practices that activists regard as cruel.

Seven states have moved to ban sow gestation crates, including Michigan in 2009. Action against the cages began in Florida with a referendum in 2002. Five states have acted against veal crates and two bar “battery” cages for hens.

“Ohio’s Ballot Issue 2 was a big win and one we must duplicate far and wide,” said Stallman.

Egypt To Inspect Farmland In Uganda

Egypt, the world’s top wheat importer, said it will send a committee to inspect suitable farmland in Uganda to grow wheat.

“There is a committee that will visit Uganda in order to determine an area to grow wheat there for Egypt and we are awaiting approval from the Ugandan side on that request,” cabinet spokesman Magdy Rady said.

He gave no further details of the terms under which the land would be used.

Rady, speaking after a joint news conference held by Egypt’s Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif and his Ugandan counterpart Apollo Nsibambi, said several committees had already visited Uganda in order to determine appropriate plots of land for the project.

Nsibambi said he had discussed the project during his visit.

An Agriculture Ministry official told Reuters in June that the two countries would soon sign a deal to grow wheat.

Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous country with about 77 million people, consumes around 14 million tonnes of wheat a year, of which it imports around half.

Poll Seeks Farmers’ Views Worldwide

The U. K.’s Farmers Weekly magazine, working with Canada’s Country Guide and other farm publications worldwide, has launched an international poll of farmers centred on one key question: How can the world feed itself?

The poll, which runs until Jan. 18, proposes five solutions, from which farmers must pick one response: Removal of trade barriers, government intervention in food production, investment in research and development, uptake of new technologies and genetic modification, or broadening expertise through education and training.

Everyone who enters the poll will get a chance to win a trip for two to South Africa, kindly supported by Bayer CropScience. Poll and contest rules are available through Country Guide’s website at www.country-guide.ca.Click on “Global Farmer Poll.”

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