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Klobuchar wants federal farm bill to help climate

Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Sen. Amy Klobuchar is urging the Senate Agriculture Committee chairman to include a host of provisions in the next farm bill aimed at helping to reduce global warming, arguing that agriculture can play a constructive role in helping the environment.

In a letter Tuesday to Chairman Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, Klobuchar wrote, "I respectfully request that agriculture’s role in fighting climate change be made a major new focus of the next farm bill."

Klobuchar, a freshman Minnesota Democrat, said she will introduce a package of incentives in the coming months with an eye toward including them in the farm bill. Those include:

• Helping farmers improve the energy efficiency of their equipment and buildings, and increase their use of renewable resources for their farms’ energy needs,

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• Incentives for farmers to grow perennial grasses and other biomass crops for cellulosic ethanol production, and

• Funding for research aimed at helping farmers come up with ways to store carbon in the soil.

In a statement, Harkin called Klobuchar’s proposals "practical, common-sense policies for curbing global warming."

"We want to create incentives for more investment, and for this energy revolution," Klobuchar said in a telephone interview.

Klobuchar said she is in a unique position to address global warming because she serves on the Agriculture, Environment and Commerce committees, all of which are dealing with the issue.

Despite her push for cellulosic ethanol, Klobuchar said she was not suggesting less emphasis on corn-based ethanol.

"Corn-based ethanol is here to stay," she said. "It’s an important part of our ethanol development. It’s just that we need to move into other areas as well. This is just going to be allowing us, including some corn growers, to expand into other kinds of ethanol."

Klobuchar said she doesn’t yet have estimates on what her proposals would cost.

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