Kyoto Treaty could cut US farm income by 50 percent

US farmers and ranchers could see their income drop to 50 percent less than 1998 levels if global warming guidelines set out in the Kyoto Treaty and agreed to by the US government are fully implemented, a study released on February 16 1999 claims.

“The impact of the treaty would be a financial last straw for many family farmers,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Dean Kleckner. “The Clinton administration has committed to a flawed treaty without releasing its own analysis of the impact the protocol would have on US agriculture. Meanwhile, agriculture has completed three studies — all of which show devastating financial consequences for farmers and ranchers.”

The study by the agricultural consulting firm Sparks Companies, Inc., states that agricultural production costs could increase by $16.2 billion or 8.8 percent. Because farmers and ranchers do not set the prices for their commodities, recapture of these higher costs would be difficult. Increased costs for processing, storing transporting and handling commodities and food would be forwarded to the consumer and would have the greatest negative impact on low-income families, who already spend a high percentage of their income on food.

“The administration is touting the treaty as a potential source of income for farmers because agricultural crops absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere,” said Kleckner. “Yet, that is nowhere to be found in the treaty, and there is little promise that it will be added.”

Last year, a group of agricultural interests, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Corn Growers Association, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Grange and United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association, asked Sparks to analyse Clinton administration proposals regarding the Global Climate Change Treaty. The study is based on the final Kyoto Treaty that the US administration signed in November 1998.

The study claims the treaty would also force US farmers to compete with more than 100 countries, such as China and Brazil, which do not have to comply with the treaty and its emission constraints.

“This treaty only drives production agriculture to the countries that have environmental problems but don’t have to participate in the United Nations’ protocol on global climate change,” said Kleckner.

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