Vilsack Changes Direction on Role USDA Would Play in Administering Any Ag Offsets Program with Cap & Trade Bill

Jun 8, 2009

Tamara Hinton (202) 225-0184

WASHINGTON – The Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack has made conflicting statements over the past two weeks about the role the U.S. Department of Agriculture should play with a national cap-and-trade system that would be created under the Waxman-Markey climate change and energy bill (H.R. 2454).

On a May 27 visit to Kentucky, the Institute for Rural Journalism at the University of Kentucky reported Secretary Vilsack as saying he would be "advocating forcefully" for two provisions to be added to the Waxman-Markey bill. One of those provisions would add carbon credits for agriculture and forestry while the other would give authority to USDA to administer those programs. Vilsack added that USDA is better suited than EPA to administer an offsets program since it has offices and employees “in virtually every county in the country.”

Then roughly one week later on June 5, Secretary Vilsack changed his view that USDA should play a lead role in any agriculture and forestry offsets program. According to an article by E & E News, Vilsack said “it’s important for us to focus on the fact that both agencies need to work together. This is very complicated legislation, and we both have to work together. I am absolutely committed to working with EPA.”

The Agriculture Committee will hold a public hearing on the Waxman-Markey legislation this Thursday, June 11 at 2pm in 1300 Longworth House Office Building. Secretary Vilsack is scheduled to be a witness on the first panel of the hearing.