WAWG officer testifies against cap and trade program

Andy Juris, secretary/treasurer of the Washington Association of Wheat Growers, testified today in a meeting of the House Environment & Energy Committee on E2SSB 5126, the Climate Commitment Act. Here is his full testimony.

Good morning Chair Fitzgibbon and members of the Committee:

For the record, my name is Andy Juris.  I am a fourth-generation farmer from Bickleton, Wash.  On our farm, we grow wheat, barley, triticale and alfalfa.

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 much 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 price tag on our product. The price for most agricultural products is set by the global market, over which we have no control.

John F. Kennedy himself said that farmers pay retail for everything they purchase. They sell everything they grow at wholesale, and they pay for freight both ways. I think his wisdom is as relevant today as it was then.

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.

You can watch a recording of the hearing here.