Part of the recent meeting sponsored by Co-Alliance, a large cooperative partnership, for 50 young far couples in Indianapolis recently dealt with subjects you would expect to see discussed at such a meeting. There were sessions on farm safety, especially when working around grain bins and tractors, other sessions on seeds and genetics, still more on grain marketing and on new technologies coming to the market. But not every topic at the meeting was typical of what you would find at most meetings of ag people.
Kevin Stihl, CEO of Co-Alliance, based in Danville, Ind., viewed this as a leadership training event for the 50 couples as well as an information session. So he invited speakers who could shake up their thinking, and challenge them to consider what agriculture might be like if farmers like themselves don't speak up and have their voices not only heard, but counted both in Indianapolis and Washington, D.C.
One of the speakers carrying a specific message about what he sees as a big threat to agriculture in Indiana as we know it was Charlie Smith, CEO of CountryMark, the giant Indiana-based fuel co-operative. CountryMark even refines oil into gasoline and other products that's harvested from oil fields in southwest Indiana.
Smith delivered a chilling view of what Cap and Trade Legislation, the heart of the so-called energy bill, would have on agriculture. He emphasized that not just farm families would be affected. Smith believes all Midwest families would feel the impact. The bill would set up a system of carbon credits. While that might benefit a few farmers who could sell credits, it would be devastating for other industries, especially businesses like the one he represents, he noted. It would also be tough medicine to swallow on states that depend heavily upon coal for cheap energy. Indiana is one of the prime states in that category.
"Speak out," Smith told the group assembled at the meeting. "Write your representatives. Let there be no confusion about what Cap and Trade would do to America."
No timetable has been set for Congress to return to debating this energy bill. Charges of collusion amongst scientists who originally endorsed the concept of global warming, as reveled in emails released earlier this winter, may have set the legislation back. However, there are still insiders who believe Congress will take up the discussion again this year.