Scott plans carbon markets hearing
House Agriculture Committee Chairman David Scott, D-Ga., said today he is planning a hearing on carbon markets at which various companies involved in those markets can explain how their programs work.
Noting that he has already chaired a hearing on climate change, Scott told the North American Agricultural Journalists that the committee “needs the proper information to move forward.” He did not announce a date for the hearing.
“There are a zillion carbon markets that are just popping up,” Scott said. “How do we navigate this growing field of different companies?” Each has a different approach, he said.
“We have all been looking at it, very concerned that farmers themselves who are playing a pivotal role are treated fairly,” he added.
Scott repeatedly praised Bayer for compensating farmers for planting cover crops and practicing no-till farming, but said he wants to learn about the approaches of the other companies. After listening to the experts, the committee needs “to put some guardrails in” because there is no measurement for carbon sequestration. Scott also noted that he has been in conversation with European Union officials about climate change and carbon markets and believes the EU is ahead of the United States in the development of policy and in bringing high-speed Internet service to rural areas, another of his priorities.
It is impossible to develop carbon markets if farmers are not connected through the Internet, Scott said.
How much it will cost to bring high-speed Internet service to all of rural America is still unclear, Scott said, noting that one witness at a recent hearing said the cost would be $60 billion while another said it would be $150 billion.
“Therein lies part of the problem: We have to nail it down,” Scott said, adding that he wants to resolve that question by the end of the year. He noted there is already some unspent money for high-speed Internet services in federal agencies.
China is also moving fast on the United States, he said. “China has their eyes on us” and wants to remove the United States from the role it has occupied as the agricultural leader of the world, he said.
On both climate change and broadband issues, bipartisanship is key, and he plans to work with House Agriculture Committee ranking member Glenn “GT” Thompson, R-Pa., Scott said.
Scott repeated previous comments he has made that he is writing a bill that will list charges of discrimination at the Agriculture Department, make those acts illegal and provide for punishment of USDA employees who engage in them. But he also said the bill will include tax measures to ensure Black farmers increase their market share, and that he is working with House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., to make sure those provisions “have good, solid benefits that follow tradition.” He emphasized that, by providing tax benefits to the companies that buy products from Black farmers, “the money stays within the agricultural system.”
Asked if the tax benefits would apply to the products of other socially disadvantaged farmers, Neal said they would but that he is most concerned about helping Black farmers because they have been discriminated against since the time of slavery and have played an important role in making American agriculture so successful.
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