This week, Washington Association of Wheat Growers President Ryan Poe spoke to the Senate Environment, Energy and Technology Committee against SB 5126 (proposal for implementing a cap and trade program). Here is his testimony:
“Good morning Chair Carlyle and members of the Committee:
For the record, my name is Ryan Poe. I am a 5th generation farmer from Hartline, Wash. On our farm, we grow wheat, canola, and beef cattle.
I am also the president of the Washington Association of Wheat Growers, a nonprofit trade association that is comprised of 1,700 members that includes wheat farming families and industry supporters.
I am here on behalf of the Washington Association of Wheat Growers opposed to SB 5126 because of concerns that farmers and people living in rural areas are going to be disproportionately impacted by this legislation. Agriculture is simply an energy intensive industry. It relies on energy for tractor fuel, fertilizer, livestock feed, and more. Any increase in petroleum and natural gas prices would have a direct effect on the cost of production.
Unlike other industries, when the cost of doing business goes up, farmers cannot simply raise the pricetag on our product. The price for most agricultural products is set by the global market, over which we have no control.
Any higher cost we’re faced with — like higher fuel prices caused by cap and trade — is a financial hit that my farm is expected to absorb somehow. It’s a struggle because we’re already operating on a thin profit.
I’m also concerned about how cap and trade will affect rural communities. In rural areas, families need to drive farther for everything: for work, for groceries, for medical care. We don’t have access to nearly as much public transportation as people in urban areas do. This means rural families will bear more of the financial burden caused by a cap and trade policy, which is an important equity issue.
Wheat farmers across the state are committed to decreasing our carbon footprint because our livelihood depends upon a healthy environment and so does our future. We would like to work with you on adopting carbon policies that will not put Washington at a competitive disadvantage and recognize agriculture as a valuable climate solution. However, we believe this proposal needs more work to understand. We welcome the opportunity to discuss and explore the benefit that agriculture and forestry play in carbon sequestration. Thank you for your time today in hearing our concerns.”