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Southern agriculture leaders oppose proposed climate change legislation

Commissioners and secretaries of agriculture representing 17 southern states and U.S. territories June 17 said the Southern Association of State Departments of Agriculture formally opposes H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009.

"We cannot support this bill or any other environmental legislation without significant input from agriculture," said Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture and current SASDA President, Terry Peach. "The existing language was created with no consultation from any segment of agriculture and we see negative effects on our producers in terms of new regulations and costs with no financial benefits."

Agriculture and forestry play key roles in reducing carbon in the environment and therefore must be brought in to any discussions regarding climate change legislation, said Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture, Ron Sparks.

"We as members of the agricultural community cannot be excluded from any discussion on any proposed environmental regulation that touches our industry," he said. "That is why SASDA has to take this step in opposing H.R. 2453 and making a resolution to the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture to also oppose this legislation."

Agriculture's role in the economy, sustaining the environment and the food security of the nation is changing and the public is going to have to embrace that change. Florida Commissioner of Agriculture, Charles Bronson, said agriculture is evolving.

"For the past 40 years agriculture has meant food and fiber," he said. "The future of agriculture is going to be food, fiber and fuel. Any efforts to create legislation that might impact this industry must include all sectors of agriculture's input.

SASDA member states include: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Virgin Islands, and West Virginia.

The annual SASDA summer meeting and convention began this week in Oklahoma City and concludes June 18.

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