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Archive for Friday, July 31, 2009

USDA urged to have role in climate policy

July 31, 2009

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— The acting Kansas agriculture secretary said Thursday that the U.S. Agriculture Department should have a leading role in any revisions of climate change regulations.

Josh Svaty said he wants the USDA rather than the Environmental Protection Agency to oversee climate change policy because the USDA, like the state’s Agriculture Department, has dual roles.

“We are a regulatory agency, but we also promote the industry of agriculture and the Kansas farmer and rancher,” Svaty said as the annual conference of Kansas wheat growers opened in Wichita. “It is important for us as we regulate to understand just how complicated and how up and down the industry of agriculture can be.”

A bill passed earlier this summer by the U.S. House that is now under consideration by the Senate would impose the first nationwide limits on greenhouse gases and require electric utilities to produce at least 12 percent of their power from pollution-free sources such as wind and solar energy by 2020.

The climate change issue is expected to permeate much of the two-day conference of the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers and Kansas Wheat Commission because of the possibility of new regulation and its impact on farmers.

Paul Penner, KAWG president and a Hillsboro farmer, said most of the farmers he has spoken to believe the climate change issue is “contrived,” but realize that in today’s political environment they need to influence the legislation.

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