Representative Colin Peterson, D-Minn., and chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Agriculture Committee, would like to slow the pace of the debate over the Waxman-Markey bill that would put carbon cap and trade legislation in place.

“The Speaker of the House wants to go forward with the bill,” Peterson said Monday during a call in to the Texas Ag Forum on Climate Change, Carbon Credits and Agriculture in Austin.

“I want to protect agriculture,” Peterson said. He said the push seems to be an attempt to put environmentalists in control of agriculture so they “can tell us what to do. I will not agree to that.”

“We have pressure to move on this right away but I don’t think it’s ready. Committee members are gun shy and will need to see the language for several days before they make a decision. If I’m not comfortable with it, they’ll have to pass it without me.”

Peterson said agriculture will be better off with a carbon tax.

He also has trouble with language in the proposal relative to indirect land use applied to analyses of ethanol production and incentives. “It needs more study. I want (that language) out.”

Peterson said all fuels should be treated equally in the bill. He’s also adamant that the EPA “should not be involved. We also want offsets to work for farmers, and producers who cannot participate in offsets, such as rice and fruit and vegetable producers, should have payment options.”

He said the agriculture committee needs to hear from farm groups on the issue as soon as possible. He said rice and livestock associations in particular need to contact legislators. He said a methane charge on livestock is not likely but producers will face higher costs from increased energy and grain prices under the cap and trade proposal.

Late Tuesday Peterson released the following statement regarding an agreement with

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman on the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009.

"We have reached an agreement that works for agriculture and contributes to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. The climate change bill will include a strong agriculture offset program run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that will allow farmers, ranchers, and forestland owners to participate fully in a market-based carbon offset program. This agreement also addresses concerns about international indirect land use provisions that unfairly restricted U.S. biofuels producers and exempts agriculture and forestry from the definition of a capped sector."

email: rsmith@farmpress.com