Opening Statement: Republican Leader Glenn 'GT' Thompson Full Committee HearingThu, 25 Feb 2021 12:40:37 CST
Remarks as prepared for delivery:
Good afternoon. I would like to thank the Chairman for holding today’s hearing and his flexibility due to the updated Floor schedule. The impact climate has on agriculture production and on our natural resources is an issue of great importance to all of us on the House Agriculture Committee. Working with us on a mutually agreeable time that provides for greater Member participation is valued and appreciated.
I would also like to thank the witnesses who juggled their schedules to join us here today virtually, and I would like to thank all our constituents and stakeholders who are joining us today virtually as well.
There’s a saying I learned BC (before Congress)-if you’re not at the table, you’re probably on the menu. For too long the agriculture sector has been on the menu when it comes to climate.
The hearing today begins to put us at the table, and I’d like to start my remarks by making a very clear position.
The climate is changing, the Earth’s temperature is rising, and I trust the science that global industrial activity has contributed to the issue.
Reducing global emissions is what we should be pursuing-it is the right thing to do, and it requires smart, prudent and science-based policies. But the apocalyptic narrative of the world coming to an end within the decade is not evidence based and it is not supported by science.
Full Committee Hearing: “Climate Change and the U.S. Agriculture and Forestry Sectors”
The self-proclaimed “experts” who continue to spout this impending doomsday scenario do nothing to advance the climate solutions discourse- they only cause unnecessary public angst and anxiety. It divides lawmakers when what we need is collaboration.
I imagine these climate grifters must rely on scare tactics to push their extreme agenda because it is burdensome, overreaching, and negatively affects jobs and rural economies-not to mention the likelihood these policies could actually result in higher global emissions. I’ll touch more on this in just a second.
Just over a decade ago, Congress rejected Waxman-Markey Cap and Trade.
For those who weren’t around or need reminding, this legislation was a national energy tax. Estimates vary, but experts predicted under cap and trade proposals, energy prices would increase as much as 125 percent.
It was predicted this policy would have resulted in American farm income to drop by $8 billion in 2012, $25 billion in 2024 and over $50 billion in 2035-decreases of 28, 60 and 94 percent, respectively.
This underscores the most troubling aspect of a national cap and trade system, or other similar approaches, which is that 40-60 million acres of land would likely have to shift from crop production and planted to trees.
It is worth noting, largely due to innovation and free market principles, the United States has reduced emissions comparable to, if not better than, what Waxman-Markey called for in its out-year reduction targets. Equally important, because it was not through government prescriptive measures, energy costs, on average have come down. With Waxman-Markey, energy prices would have skyrocketed.
When Waxman-Markey failed, the Obama EPA chose a different route and pursued regulations to reduce emissions from the electricity sector-known as the Clean Power Plan. Fortunately, that was stopped by the courts and eventually Trump EPA.
Good thing, too-the government prescriptive Obama Clean Power Plan sought to reduce emissions 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. Without this regulation, and because of innovation and the market, power sector emissions hit that 32% reduction mark more than a decade sooner in 2019-without the utility bill increases that would have come with the Clean Power Plan.
At a time when energy prices have decreased and manufacturing has strengthened, the United States has led the world in reducing emissions. We have reduced carbon emissions more than the next twelve emissions
reducing nations COMBINED. Let me quote the head of the International Energy Agency:
“In the last 10 years, the emissions reduction in the United States has been the largest in the history of energy… This is huge decline of emissions.”
The question isn’t whether or not climate change is real. The question is not whether or not to reduce emissions. The question is how to best approach it.
And just this past Congress, Democrats created a Select Committee on Climate Crisis, which used nearly an entire Congress, only to deliver a staff report that simply rebrands Cap and Tax and the Green New Deal.
These climate proposals aim to uproot the basic underpinnings of our farming, manufacturing, energy, and transportation systems, and require changes for marginal or unknown benefits that would have significant implications for the profitability of U.S. agriculture and the U.S. economy.
More so, these recommendations can negatively impact food abundance and increase food prices, all while displacing U.S. production with that of less-efficient, more carbon-intensive foreign producers, leading to an increase in global emissions.
These proposals are in direct conflict with the bipartisan principle that on-farm conservation should be locally led, voluntary, and incentive based.
I truly believe our approach to overcoming this issue must favor pro-growth solutions over burdensome overregulation. Innovation and research must be at the forefront of our solutions.
As a matter of fact, there has been a lot of talk about legislation or executive actions to address climate change, but I believe many of these proposals are a solution in search of a problem.
If we really want to reduce GLOBAL emissions, hindering U.S. production is the opposite of what we should be doing. We should be taking steps to ensure the global competitiveness of our farmers.
Though often overlooked, the 2018 Farm Bill, is arguably the greenest farm bill ever. The farm bill is a climate bill. Some may scoff at that assertion but let’s talk about that bill.
The Farm Bill’s voluntary programs help farmers implement new practices that sequester carbon, reduce emissions, and adopt more energy-efficient farming practices.
These programs have grown significantly in size and scope over the past two decades providing $6 billion dollars a year to farmers, ranchers, and forestry owners to implement practices like soil health practices, such as cover crops and no till that can help draw down carbon and store it in the soil.
The current conservation delivery system is the gold standard of the world. Our hard working NRCS field staff along with conservation districts are delivering these benefits not only to farmers but to all rural communities.
I also believe the private sector can play a role in addressing the climate crisis. Companies like Land O’Lakes are leading in conservation finance, converting methane into energy, and working on private carbon markets.
Let me state for the record I support private ecosystem markets as long as those markets are focused on benefits to the producers. I do not think the government should be intervening in those markets. I hope we can concentrate more on proven solutions.
I hope all of us can agree that a much greater expansion and more rapid deployment of high-quality broadband connectivity is essential in this regard. It’s essential for our rural communities, and it’s essential to data-driven climate solutions. Broadband isn’t just needed in our homes; it’s desperately needed on our farms as well. Agriculture is science, it’s technology, it’s innovation. The demands of a 21st century farm economy-and economically viable climate solutions- depends on reliable connectivity.
Thanks to innovations in agriculture technologies, farmers are not only conserving resources, they’re doing it while producing more food, feed, and fiber. Productivity relative to resource use for agriculture is up a whopping 287% in the U.S. since the 1940’s while total farm inputs were mostly unchanged during this time period.
I believe this is something that isn’t talked about enough. U.S. producers are the shining star when it comes to resiliency and sustainability. U.S. producers are the answer to reducing global emissions, not the problem, as so many activists would have you believe.
However, without high-speed internet connectivity at both the farmhouse and the field, many of these new technologies that have helped create these efficiencies have never realized their full potential.
Continuing to build on the conservation success of American farmers will reap additional emissions benefits and increase U.S. farming’s competitive advantage globally.
The men and women who farm our land are the original stewards of that land. The left will give them no credit for all the advancements they have made in protecting our natural resources.
The wrong approach with burdensome regulations or policies that dramatically increase costs will harm rural economies, while displacing U.S. production with that of less-efficient foreign producers, leading to an increase in global emissions.
The question we have to ask is: who do we want supplying the world agriculture products? Is it the most efficient, low emission, producer that creates jobs in America, or the higher emitting sources that create jobs overseas? If you care about the American farmer as well as addressing climate change, the answer should be obvious.
Again, thank you Mr. Chairman for holding today’s hearing. I know you believe, as I do, that our farmers and ranchers can be part of the solution to the climate crisis.
Thanks again to our witnesses, and I yield back
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