Markey, Stulp meet with farmers, ranchers in Greeley | TheFencePost.com

Markey, Stulp meet with farmers, ranchers in Greeley

Bill Jackson
For the Fence Post

Federal cap-and-trade legislation dominated a two-hour agriculture round table in Greeley Tuesday afternoon hosted by two members of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee.

U.S. Rep. Betsy Markey, D-Colo., was joined by U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, and John Stulp, Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture, at the event in the Exhibition Building in Island Grove Regional Park that drew about 75 people. The session was moderated by Kirvin Knox, former provost at Colorado State University.

Notice of the meeting was not sent out from Markey’s office until late Monday night.

The two members of Congress said health care would not be discussed at the meeting and about 10 people promptly left the building. Problems put on agriculture as the result of the closure of New Frontier Bank in Greeley were also not discussed at the meeting.

Cap and trade, passed by the House, has a goal of reducing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions similar to a program enacted by the Clean Air Act of 1990, which reduced sulfur emissions that caused acid rain.

But not everyone in the crowd agreed with those goals.

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Steve Fioloski, who has a farming and cattle operation near Pierce, called cap and trade “scary,” and said it would continue to drive up costs of inputs for his farming operation. His statements brought a round of applause from the crowd.

And Bret Elliott of Greeley, who is a regional sales manager for a business software company, said global warming reportedly caused by greenhouse emissions “is nothing more than a way to expand the federal government.” He added: “You guys work for us and all of you are out of control.”

Peterson and Markey both said they were not big believers in global warming, but Peterson pointed out that 71 percent of the U.S. population wants cap and trade legislation passed. And, he warned, if cap and trade is not instituted, then the federal government will fall back on the Clean Air Act “and you’ll have to get a catalytic converter for all your cows.”

He said the legislation passed by the House exempts agriculture from greenhouse gases, “so the EPA will not run the program for agriculture, the department of agriculture will.” He said he expects the legislation to be improved in the Senate, which has greater rural representation than does the House. Peterson said the legislation would limit input costs to farmers and ranchers.

“Many of my people think global warming is a hoax, and I’m a little skeptical myself. But it’s going on all over the world, and it’s not good to put all that carbon in the atmosphere.” Peterson said.

Markey said the legislation is better than doing nothing and she said she supports more domestic drilling for oil and natural gas. But, she added, other energy sources must also be used, calling cap and trade “the first step towards energy independence.”

Les Hardesty, a Greeley dairyman, asked if there would be any move toward developing new immigration policies that would help those in agriculture find needed labor.

Peterson and Markey said there are too many other issues facing the Obama administration, which means immigration reform has moved down the priority list.

“We’ve got the same situation at home where farmers can’t get labor despite unemployment of 10-11 percent,” Peterson said. He and Markey said it would be next year before immigration is addressed by Congress.