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NFU delegates outline energy and climate change priorities

Delegates to National Farmers Union's annual convention in Washington, D.C., March 10 urged agriculture's role in renewable energy production and combating climate change be expanded. The delegates outlined provisions that should be included in future energy and climate change legislation.

"Rural America has an unprecedented ability to expand energy production and be part of the solution to global climate change," NFU President Tom Buis said. "Production of fuels from renewable materials has spurred economic growth in rural communities that have experienced economic decline."

"America's farmers also combat climate change by sequestering and storing carbon dioxide. Any legislation should recognize this contribution of rural America and facilitate its growth," Buis said.

NFU delegates said energy legislation should include the following:

--Federal incentives for local ownership in renewable energy production to ensure that economic benefits stay in local communities;

--Expansion of the ethanol blend wall above the current 10 percent;

--A federal Renewable Portfolio Standard to require a measureable percentage of the electricity market be supplied by new, renewable energy;

--Support for Landowner Wind Associations, to facilitate existing and emerging LWA's in assessing and marketing wind resources to project developers;

--Full funding for research and development of renewable energy technologies, including efforts to address infrastructure requirements; and

--A permanent expansion of renewable energy production tax credits.

Delegates also called for climate change legislation that:

--Provides USDA with authority to implement agricultural offset programs;

--Eliminates an artificial cap on the use of domestic offset allowances;

--Ensures legislation does not unfairly undermine the full value of agricultural offset activities;

--Empowers USDA to develop effective scientific modeling tools to measure carbon sequestration on farmers;

--Recognizes early actors who have already undertaken greenhouse gas reduction activities; and

--Allows producers to stack credits and ensure that projects in greenhouse gas offset markets are not excluded from also participating in other environmental service markets.

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