It is a commonly held belief among environmentally motivated people that cap and trade is an all-around good idea. It is a commonly held experience by small farmers that it is financially detrimental and puts many farms at risk. At the end of the day, lawmakers decide if and how Oregon will participate. In a recent interview with Barb Iverson, president of the Oregon Farm Bureau, she explained to us that although most small farmers care deeply about the environment, charging farmers for their carbon output does more harm than good. Many farmers are actually in favor of cap and trade, but find that its current implementation is unrealistic and neglects to incorporate farmers’ efforts to offset their carbon use (solar panel arrays, nature preservation, etc.). We hope to find a way to facilitate conversations between the stakeholders involved in this issue in order to find a middle ground where carbon output is reduced without putting small farms at risk.
We need to get back to the middle. The majority of people want to find a compromise.Barb Iverson
What’s The Problem?
On March 10th, 2020, Governor Brown issued an executive order to place a cap on emissions. Three days later, the Oregon Farm Bureau issued a statement expressing their firm opposition to the order. In this statement, they explain that it will be extremely detrimental to rural communities, that it won’t have a significant impact on climate change, and that it will be quite costly for the state to defend in court. Oregon farmers are already working to reduce their carbon footprints and are frustrated that they will still be charged considerable amounts of money for their necessary farm practices.
Who Is Involved?
The issue of cap and trade includes three main stakeholders: farmers, the state of Oregon, and the environment. All three share a common goal of reducing carbon emissions in Oregon, but the obstacles each faces differ immensely. Farmers want to reduce their footprints, but face the obstacle of financial instability. An added cost of operations can be detrimental enough to shut down an entire farm, leaving rural families in poverty. The state faces the obstacles of resistance from the public and potential lawsuit costs after the legislation passes. The environment has the obstacle of being a passive stakeholder; it is a crucial element of the cap and trade issue, but is unable to act the same way other stakeholders can. Because of this, it is the responsibility of the state and farmers to collaboratively act in the environment’s best interest.
How can we solve it?
In our interview with Barb Iverson, we all agreed that communication is a crucial tool in finding a middle ground for the issue of cap and trade. What is missing in current cap and trade legislation is conversation between farmers are policymakers. Farmers are passionate about reducing carbon output and are already taking actions to do so, but their voices are not listened to by those in power. We would like to facilitate one-on-one conversations between Oregon lawmakers and owners of small farms during which both stakeholders have an opportunity to share their personal stories and explain what reducing carbon emissions means to them. We believe that if both groups have a platform to express the reasoning behind their stances on the issue, it will be possible to reach a middle ground that promotes cap and trade legislature that doesn’t put farms at risk. This isn’t an issue of saying “yes” or “no” to cap and trade, it’s an opportunity to implement it in a way that is beneficial to all stakeholders.