National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson provided the keynote address, titled "Food and Climate Change in a Global Economy," at the conference of the Association of Farmers Organizations in Scandinavia in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Johnson told the group that farmers and ranchers can be key players in combating global climate change and lead the transition to a clean, renewable energy economy. He said that while critics have pointed to increased costs as a reason for their opposition, it is time to fully look at the cost of inaction.

"We know that input costs will increase under a cap and trade system," Johnson said. "However, a robust and flexible agricultural offset program will allow producers to mitigate some of these inputs and, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, allow them to economically benefit in the long run. When coupled with aggressive renewable energy initiatives, rural America stands to significantly benefit."

Johnson added that if the United States does not adopt a strong agricultural offsets provision before the Copenhagen meetings this December, and argue for their inclusion worldwide, it will be extremely unlikely that the rest of the world will do so. "The United States must lead the effort to recognize the importance of agricultural offsets," Johnson said.

Johnson said National Farmers Union is committed to working with members of the U.S. House and Senate to pass climate change and renewable energy legislation that will maximize the unique role of farmers, ranchers and rural communities.