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Column: Cap and trade will hurt, not bolster, the ag community in Oregon

Oregonians should reject calls to adopt California’s cap and trade law.

By Barry Bushue

For the Capital Press

Published on January 30, 2018 10:37AM

Oregon Farm Bureau President Barry Bushue

Courtesy of Oregon Farm Bureau

Oregon Farm Bureau President Barry Bushue

The agriculture community has been a vital part of our region’s economy for over a century, employing over 300,000 people across our great state and generating billions in revenue each year. As business leaders, we invest heavily in sustainability and resource stewardship to reduce our footprint. It’s paid off. Oregon’s share of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions is less than 1 percent and is on a clear downward trend — emissions are down 13 percent in the last 15 years.

Our state has been a leader in building one of the cleanest economies in the country. Yet, legislators have introduced a proposal that would apply California’s costly and unnecessary carbon pricing program to Oregon. More than anyone else, farm and ranch families depend on a healthy environment, so we share legislators’ goal of protecting it. However, we fundamentally differ on the proposal being considered this session.

The proposal being considered will not decrease global greenhouse gas emissions. However, it will reduce the viability of Oregon’s homegrown businesses and levy downstream financial impacts on farm families. The cap and trade bill will drive up the cost of resources we need to support investments in carbon reduction and grow valuable jobs across our state. By adopting California’s unsuccessful cap and trade program and creating an economy-wide price on carbon we would immediately drive up the cost of electricity, increase fuel by a minimum of 16 cents per gallon and drive thousands of jobs away from Oregon.

Furthermore, with 80 percent of our ag production leaving the state, it’s imperative we maintain a competitive edge in the global marketplace. As price-takers, farmers have a limited ability to recoup added production costs. Cap and trade will reduce our competitiveness by levying a new layer of costs onto Oregon producers that our counterparts in other states and parts of the world do not have.

Oregon is responsible for .1 percent of global carbon emissions, meaning you could eliminate our economy entirely and not make a dent in global emissions. Our state is one of the cleanest in the nation, and we’ve made tremendous strides to make it even cleaner. It makes no sense to increase the cost of living for Oregon families and jeopardize thousands of agriculture jobs to meet a goal we’re already advancing toward. Oregonians should reject calls to adopt California’s cap and trade law. Instead, let’s come together and continue the great progress we’re making together in reducing GHG emissions.

Barry Bushue is president of the Oregon Farm Bureau Federation.


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