Climate bill needs "off ramp": Senate farm chief

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The climate bill being assembled in the U.S. Senate should include an “off ramp” allowing the United States to relax its greenhouse gas rules if other nation fail to control theirs, said the Senate Agriculture Committee chairman on Wednesday.

Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin of Iowa told reporters that he would allow other nations three to five years to act to curb carbon emissions.

“If other countries don’t join us ... hey, we’re off the ramp,” he said during a break in an Agriculture Committee hearing on climate legislation.

Harkin said the “off ramp” should be written into the Senate bill.

The idea of an off ramp was raised during testimony by farm groups. Groups like the American Farm Bureau Federation said U.S. farmers would be at a disadvantage on the export market if other nations kept their prices low by not curbing carbon emissions.

U.S. farm costs are expected to rise under a climate law.

Reporting by Charles Abbott; Editing by Christian Wiessner