Today, National Farmers Union (NFU) and other leading U.S. farm, forest products and labor groups called on Congress and the administration to help end tropical deforestation. The groups cited a new report entitled, “Farms Here, Forests There: Tropical Deforestation and U.S. Competitiveness in Agriculture and Timber,” showing overseas agriculture and logging operations are expanding production by cutting down the world’s rainforests, allowing them to flood the world market with cheap commodities that undercut American goods.
During a teleconference releasing the report, NFU, the American Forest & Paper Association, United Steelworkers (representing forest products workers), and the Ohio Corn Growers Association called for the protection of tropical forests as part of comprehensive energy and climate legislation and other policies.
“American farmers and ranchers know the importance of being good stewards of the land,” said NFU President Roger Johnson, who recently returned from a weeklong trip to Brazil where he studied the interaction between agriculture and deforestation. “With family farmers fighting to hold onto their land, we’ve got to make sure we’re not being undercut by irresponsible practices like deforestation.”
The study demonstrates that properly constructed international offsets can substantially increase U.S farm income while simultaneously reducing U.S. Farm input costs. It is estimated that ending deforestation will boost revenue for U.S. producers by between $196 and $267 billion by 2030 – approximately equivalent to the entire amount projected to be spent by farmers on energy during that time, while also saving agriculture and related industries an estimated $49 billion in compliance costs.
“Climate legislation currently being considered in Congress needs to include appropriate incentives to address tropical deforestation while also promoting U.S. agriculture,” said Johnson.
As a result of the need for increased production from ending deforestation, producers across the United States of commodities like soybeans, beef, timber, palm oil and palm oil substitutes stand to gain billions of dollars in revenue.
The report was authored by Shari Friedman of David Gardiner & Associates on behalf of the National Farmers Union and Avoided Deforestation Partners. It is available at www.adpartners.org/agriculture, along with state-by-state and industry-by-industry data on the effect of tropical deforestation on U.S. agriculture and timber producers.