The executive summary of a study commissioned by the National Association of Wheat Growers to examine the implications of various climate change or clean energy proposals is now available online at www.wheatworld.org/climatechange.

The study, undertaken by Informa Economics with support from American Farmland Trust, takes a broad look at possible cap-and-trade policies, examining drivers that could increase benefits and minimize costs.

The executive summary released Thursday concludes that, if structured properly, cap-and-trade has the potential to provide some benefits to farmers. However, plausible policy design outcomes could be very harmful, and a lack of engagement could leave agriculture in a weaker position if and when a final bill comes to fruition.

The report identifies policy issues that can represent risks or opportunities to the agricultural sector. A few key policy points include:

• Carbon allowances distributed to the fertilizer industry are critical in keeping the cost impacts down. It is important that these allowances are maintained, and language is inserted into the legislation to ensure that their benefit is passed on to farmers.

• Legislation should maximize the number of carbon offsetting opportunities.

• Legislation should ensure continued enrollment in offset programs is available for as long as is justifiable.

• Agriculture’s involvement is critical in establishing methodologies used to calculate sequestration rates for various carbon offsetting activities.

“This information highlights that we need to pay careful attention to issues of cost containment and potential benefits," said NAWG Environment and Renewable Resources (ERR) Committee Chairman Eric Hasselstrom, a wheat producer from Winchester, Idaho. “For myself and other members of our Board, I know this process has been a learning experience and the study that resulted is a tool we will be able to evaluate legislative text as it becomes available.”

“We appreciate the opportunity to work with American Farmland Trust to get this study done,” said NAWG President Jerry McReynolds, a producer from Woodston, Kan. “We look forward to continuing to formulate policy priorities as Congress and the Environmental Protection Agency take action related to greenhouse gases.”

Many of the executive summary's conclusions were also included in a PowerPoint presentation provided to the NAWG ERR Committee at the 2010 Commodity Classic, held in March. That presentation is also available at www.wheatworld.org/climatechange.

The NAWG Board of Directors has directed staff to engage in climate change legislation negotiations to achieve an outcome that is in the best interest of our grower-members. On Sept. 4, 2009, the NAWG Board of Directors approved a resolution regarding greenhouse gas regulation requiring a net economic benefit from greenhouse legislation or regulation for a measure to gain NAWG's support.