U.S. farm group sees gains from deforestation halt

SAN FRANCISCO Wed May 26, 2010 9:03pm EDT

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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Stopping global deforestation would boost U.S. agricultural revenue by $190 billion to $270 billion through 2030 by cutting unfair competition, a U.S. farm group and a nonprofit focused on climate change argued on Wednesday.

Deforestation accounts for about a fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions, chiefly from the destruction of tropical forests. Proponents of climate change legislation are mustering their forces for what is seen as an uphill fight to pass a bill in the U.S. Senate.

The study commissioned by the National Farmers Union and Avoided Deforestation Partners calculates that climate change legislation which would support international efforts to end tropical deforestation can be good for the U.S. economy.

Many climate change legislation proponents see a boom in green industries, such as alternative energy, and cutting energy costs through better efficiency, but farmers have been skeptical about the benefit to them from such a law.

Eliminating deforestation would cut into the flood of cheap commodities and also slow the expansion of agriculture on land cleared by the age-old slash-and-burn method. U.S. timber, soybean, oilseed and beef industries in particular would benefit, the report said.

It calculated higher production would boost U.S. agricultural revenues $141 billion to $221 billion and lower energy and fertilizer costs would add another $49 billion between 2012 and 2030.

(Reporting by Peter Henderson; Editing by Eric Walsh)

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