Archive for the ‘Copenhagen Climate Conference’ Category

Agriculture and Greenhouse Gas Emissions: A Look Back at Copenhagen

January 12, 2010

My recent visit to the Copenhagen Climate Conference was a great opportunity for me to represent Ohio farmers with a global community. It allowed me to discuss the position of American agriculture as it relates to global climate policy with professionals throughout the world.

And though Copenhagen has come and gone, I’m still considering how climate-change discussions impact agriculture, specifically how agriculture and greenhouse gas reductions are tied together more than ever.

The number of opinions on both sides of the climate debate seems endless and will remain up for debate. What isn’t up for debate is agriculture’s role in reducing GHGs through precision farming, methane digesters, nitrous oxide emission reductions and new technology.

The agriculture industry includes a variety of players – scientists, farmers, politicians and more – and each has something to say about the state of our environment.

The variety of voices at the Copenhagen Climate Conference underscored the following:

• World agriculture accounts for only 14 percent of all global greenhouse gas emissions, yet it disproportionately receives a lot of blame.
• Agriculture can play a substantial role in greenhouse gas reductions when its members utilize advanced technology and techniques.
• Attention to renewable fuels has been re-emphasized and the corn industry should pay attention to how it can leverage ethanol

The significance of greenhouse gas mitigation will only increase as we all search for ways to better the space we live and breathe in every day. Now more than ever, it’s important to become a voice for our country in dispelling the myth of the negligent farmer and replace that stereotype with the truth of the thousands of farmer’s nationwide practicing responsible farming.

I look forward to continuing my knowledge in this subject matter and also to relaying more information about the corn industry to you. I hope you visit often.

‘Til next time,

Dwayne

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Overlooked: Copenhagen’s Ag Day Similar To Heisman Trophy Presentation

December 13, 2009

For those not familiar with Denmark’s time zone, it is six hours ahead of Ohio’s eastern time. So when I wanted to watch the Heisman Trophy announcement, I realized I had to stay up until 3 a.m. to see if my choice, Ndamokong Suh (I am a Cornhusker fan), pulled off an upset.

Although I have no problem with Mark Ingram winning the award, I can’t understand how Colt McCoy finished a close third and far ahead of the player who dominated him in a head-to-head matchup. Mr. Suh, the most dominant player in college football this year in my opinion, was simply ignored by a vast majority of voters. Do Heisman voters actually watch the games? Do they understand what they are watching?

The entire Heisman voting process reminded me of the COP 15 Ag Day that I participated in yesterday here in Copenhagen. Agriculture and Rural Development Day (ARDD) brought together policy makers, climate-change negotiators, rural-development practitioners, farmers, civil society, scientific community and academia.

From the outset of ARDD, it was obvious that U.S. agriculture, the most dominant “player,” was not being looked at by the rest of the world as being a leader in terms of providing opportunities for farmers in this new arena. My observation was that the participants of ARDD believe the focus should be on farmers in developing countries that have struggled for decades in producing food and feed and criticizing Western Civilization agriculture for being too productive.

I was shocked, to say the least. Here we have the world’s leader in producing food, feed and fuel from crops, the world’s leader in utilization of new technology and the world’s leader in efficient production practices that offer the best bet for greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction. Sadly, the ARDD participants (much like Heisman voters) decided to ignore the obvious.

Worldwide greenhouse-gas emissions from agriculture account for 14 percent of all GHG emissions, but of that 14 percent, over 74 percent of the agriculture-based GHG emissions come from developing countries. It is obvious that U.S. farmers have been and will continue to do their job, but the rest of the world believes the U.S. should pay to bring everyone to their level. Fred Yoder and I had a chance to meet one on one with a U.S. negotiator and it became clear that developing countries want the U.S. to shoulder much of the load in GHG mitigation.

With that being said, the U.S. agriculture sector was not engaged as the most “dominant” player at this conference. Although U.S. agriculture interests from a small number of sectors participated, much of U.S. agriculture (like Heisman voters) decided to take the safe path and continue playing (voting) as if the playing field hasn’t changed, instead of taking a hard and bold look (voting) at how U.S. farmers can play in the new worldwide arena. Shame on us.

One segment I was surprised to learn that has realized the time is now to learn how to function in this new environment was the fertilizer industry. Representatives of the fertilizer industry shared with me their development of nitrous oxide emission-reduction protocols for farmers as well as other GHG mitigation tools for farmers. OCGA will continue to learn more and share this development.

One speaker, Tim Searchinger, who has often maligned corn farmers and corn ethanol, had a chance to present his latest paper in a mini-session. Corn farmers should note that two of your leaders, Darin Ihnen, NCGA President, and Fred Yoder, both spoke out against Mr. Searchinger’s  data and conclusions in his session, and their comments were roundly echoed by other scientists in the room.

As I sign off, I’d like to congratulate Ndomakong Suh for an excellent season and to say to Colt McCoy … Roll Tide!

Dwayne

Greetings from COP 15

December 12, 2009

For those of you wondering what COP 15 stands for, it is simply the United Nations designation for Conference of the People … the meeting in Copenhagen happens to be the 15th Conference of the People for the U.N.

Our day at COP 15 focused on Indirect Land Use Change and deforestation in the Amazon: Two topics that on the surface do not seem to be connected to Ohio corn farmers, but over the last couple of years, much of the blame has been placed on the backs of corn farmers in the U.S. Blame that has not been based on facts, but instead has been based on fear.

John Cain Carter of Allianca de Terra, a Mato Grosso, Brazil land alliance, has been front and center on the debate of Amazon deforestation and the principle reasons why it is happening. Mr. Carter, a former U.S. Army Ranger, is not shy about dispelling myths of corn and corn ethanol’s role in deforestation.

His simple and direct answer is “the notion that the U.S. corn farmer is playing a role in the deforestation of the Amazon is asinine. No one in Brazil makes decisions based on how much ethanol is produced from corn in the U.S.”

Mr. Carter goes on to explain it is simply a case of economics: The land is more valuable economically than the trees and much of the damage is created by illegal land grabbers. The Allianca de Terra is focused on changing that dynamic by participating in offset programs to increase the economic value of keeping the Amazon forest vibrant.

He makes a good case that U.S. agriculture should participate in this discussion. OCGA will continue to work with Mr. Carter and discover ways to further our partnership.

Today is Ag Day for COP 15. OCGA Board Member Fred Yoder and I will be participating in this event featuring breakout sessions on Biochar, Solutions to deforestation and managing soils and verification systems for GHG mitigation. USDA Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack will be the featured speaker at noon. I’ll post a more detailed report tomorrow as Ohio agriculture steps up to the stage with world leaders in discussing what the future holds.

Dwayne

Our First Day in Copenhagen

December 11, 2009

I want to start off today by thanking the city of Copenhagen and its people for their hospitality and warm welcome. Everyone has been very helpful and extremely friendly.

The talk of the conference on my first day in attendance has been the
U.S. EPA’s endangerment finding on greenhouse gases, specifically
cardon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide emissions. EPA’s ruling did
not come as a surprise to me and the Ohio Corn Growers Association as
this direction has been put in place since the Supreme Court ruling in
April of 2007. The Clean Air Act and its amendments provide a “clear
statutory command,” the majority of the Justices said, and “Greenhouse
gases fit well within the Clean Air Act’s capacious definition of air
pollutant,” ruled Justice Stevens.

It seems that EPA’s decision has caught everyone off guard, when in
reality, the decision was just a matter of time. Many attendees are
wondering if legislation in the U.S. will gain momentum now. That
remains to be seen, of course. Regardless, agriculture can play a
substantial role in greenhouse gas reductions as farmers continue to
utilize new technology and new methods of producing corn. The last few
years are proof that farmers will continue to produce more with less
land, fewer inputs and emissions and less water consumption per bushel.

This ruling has been the catalyst for OCGA’s involvement in carbon
sequestration efforts with no-till and researching future agriculture
offset economic opportunities for farmers. If the U.S. follows EPA’s
path, agriculture has much to lose and costs will skyrocket across the
board with no opportunity to be a part of an offset market.

Friday’s agenda includes roundtable discussions with our counterparts
in Brazil as we continue to develop new ways to partner. John Carter
of Allianca de Terra will be joining OCGA Board Member Fred Yoder and I in a
presentation on our mission to Brazil and John’s mission to Ohio this
past August.

More to come soon…

Dwayne



Greetings from Copenhagen

December 7, 2009

Welcome to the Ohio Corn Blog.

As executive director of the Ohio Corn Growers Association (OCGA), I am thrilled to offer you this regular blog to offer our insight into some of the most pressing issues facing today’s corn farmer and modern agriculture. OCGA is active in several issues regarding the environment, energy and the economy, so this provides a great arena for discussion and information sharing.

Starting Thursday, I’ll be blogging from the Copenhagen Climate Conference. I am honored to represent the American corn industry at the international Copenhagen Climate Conference. Along with OCGA board member Fred Yoder, we are part of a six-person delegation from the National Corn Growers Association who have been given a seat at the table on how discussions about environmental issues impact the agriculture community in the U.S. and abroad, including the Waxman-Markey energy, climate and cap-and-trade bill and many other issues that will have long term implications for corn farmers. Today’s corn farmer invests a lot of time and resources into environmentally responsible farming technology and techniques, so we’re glad we have the opportunity to participate along with other U.S. agriculture interests from the dairy industry and the American Farm Bureau Federation in these far-reaching discussions that will impact farmers in Ohio.

With upcoming posts to this blog, I am happy to give you a summary about the developments that occur each day we’re at the conference. This blog will offer you an insider’s look at these high-level discussions, as well as some other observations from the conference.

I hope my posts inspire dialogue among everyone who takes an interest in energy, the environment and agriculture.

Talk to you soon.

Dwayne Siekman
Executive Director
Ohio Corn Growers Association