The American Farm Bureau goes all in
Check out the pitch on agribiz lobbying group American Farm Bureau’s (AFB) new anti-climate bill website:
Activists claim there will be droughts, floods, loss of species, and more, if the Senate does not pass the Climate Change bill. But their bill wouldn’t even help the climate … The fact is politics is driving the need for passage — not facts! The cap-and-trade bill does nothing for Climate Change — it’s simply a tax on U.S. energy that gives other countries a free pass. That’s wrong. This is the kind of policy we ask you to stand against today.
It’s at the heart of a new campaign the AFB is attempting to orchestrate against the Kerry-Boxer climate change bill. Kate Sheppard reports:
According to a memo emailed to Farm Bureau members and obtained by Mother Jones, they’re also urging state bureaus to hand-deliver to their senators’ in-state offices farmer-style hats — or, if you prefer, “farmer caps” — bearing a AFB sticker opposing the legislation. They’re also sending starter kits for the campaign to their state affiliates by Nov. 6.
“Using the familiar farmer cap and the ‘Don’t CAP Our Future’ message sticker to brand the cap with opposition to the issue, state Farm Bureaus can influence your Senators with a visual impact. The farmer caps plan is designed to be used in the state and multiple events.”
AFB President Bob Stallman has a lengthy history of climate denial and obstructionism — it was his hymnbook from which House Ag Chairman Collin Peterson sang in Peterson’s gleeful dismantling of the House’s climate bill. But the AFB’s new overtly denialist lobbying campaign takes it to another level. And best of all, it’s called “Don’t CAP Our Future.” Get it? Cap-and-trade? Farmers like to wear caps? Wheee!
But like its friends at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, I wonder if the AFB has gone a bit too far. The other main agribiz group, the National Farmers Union, is on board with the idea of addressing climate change. Meanwhile, the USDA actively supports the measure and is on the verge of finalizing their climate bill impact estimates which show a net benefit to farmers. The possibility of bipartisan support has even been raised with GOP Sen. Lindsay Graham’s full-throated endorsement of the Senate bill.
The data is certainly against it, despite the AFB’s attempts to plug up its ears and let loose a loud “I’m not listening!!” The U.N. climate group, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, just updated their latest estimates indicating that climate change is accelerating. Germany’s climate advisory board has looked at the most recent evidence and has concluded we actually need to cut net carbon emissions worldwide to zero by 2050. And two new studies that look at climate change’s effects on agriculture show severe disruptions to industrial agriculture in the near term and up to 80 percent reductions in U.S. corn and soy yields by the end of the century.
Obviously, the AFB already has an ace-in-the-hole in Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), new Chairman of the Senate Ag Committee — there’s no telling what kind of damage she can do if and when she gets her hands on the Kerry-Boxer bill. Indeed, she’s already said she wants to kill it outright. And it’s true that despite hopeful signs, passage of a climate bill remains uncertain at best. But the AFB has clearly thrown its cap in with the deniers and the do-nothings. If its member farmers do the same and succeed in killing the climate bill — what exactly do they think they will have accomplished? Other than guaranteeing their children’s and their grandchildren’s suffering. Perhaps someone should put that on a cap, too.