The National Corn Growers Association has joined 11 other agricultural organizations to outline nine key principles that are vital to the farm economy regarding greenhouse gas cap-and-trade legislation. Several proposals have been circulating that would create a cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, and the principles document will be sent to Capitol Hill in an effort to educate Congress as legislation moves through the two chambers.

The nine issues outlined in the briefing document include:

1. The agriculture sector must not be subject to an emissions cap.
2. Any cap-and-trade legislation must fully recognize the wide range of carbon mitigation or sequestration benefits that agriculture can provide.
3. Legislation must be structured so that it makes economic sense for agriculture.
4. USDA should promulgate the rules and administer an agricultural offsets program (as opposed to EPA).
5. The use of domestic offsets must not be artificially limited.
6. Carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas mitigation rates must be based on sound science.
7. Any cap-and-trade legislation must provide an initial list of project types that are eligible agricultural offsets.
8. Legislation should recognize early actors.
9. Legislation should not prohibit stackable credits or participation in multiple programs when multiple benefits are achieved for the same practice.

"We believe these nine principles reflect some of the highest priority issues that must be addressed in any cap-and-trade legislation," NCGA Ethanol Committee Chairman Steve Ruh said. "If legislation is structured appropriately, agriculture can play an important role in greenhouse gas mitigation while benefiting economically from a future carbon market. NCGA has shown continuous and longstanding involvement in this issue and our efforts will not go unnoticed."

Legislation is expected to be introduced by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, who has pledged to have a bill marked up and out of committee by Memorial Day.

In addition to NCGA, organizations that have endorsed the principles document include the American Farmland Trust, the American Soybean Association, the National Association of Conservation Districts, the National Association of Wheat Growers, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, the National Farmers Union, the National Milk Producers Federation, the Public Lands Council, the United Fresh Produce Association and the Western Growers Association.