Terry and Paul Handke hosted Rep. Lynn Jenkins and members of the media last week for a tour of their diversified farming and cattle feeding operation near Muscotah. KLA and Kansas Farm Bureau organized the event to help Jenkins better understand the direct effects cap-and-trade legislation and the Clean Water Restoration Act (CWRA) would have on Kansas ranchers, feeders and farmers.

Paul Handke said cap-and-trade will provide very little benefit, if any, compared to what it will cost producers in terms of rising energy prices. He said a minimal increase of 5% to 10% in energy costs would raise their operating expenses by $50,000 to $100,000 per year. According to Kansas State University ag economist Troy Dumler, who also spoke to the group, fuel costs could rise as much as 25% by 2020 if cap-and-trade passes in its current form. The Handkes explained to Jenkins their cattle operation would suffer as increased crop production and transportation costs drove feed prices higher.

CWRA, which proposes to eliminate the word “navigable” from the definition of “waters of the U.S. ” within the Clean Water Act, also could have an extremely negative impact on the Handkes’ feedyard. Terry Handke told Jenkins redefining “waters of the U.S. ” could mean cattle feeders who have received National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits would have to “start from scratch” and rework their permits.

Jenkins told those in attendance she understands these issues have “real consequences for real people.” She voted against the cap-and-trade bill when it was considered in the U.S. House. Jenkins said she plans to take the “real-world information she has garnered from producers like Terry and Paul Handke to Washington , D.C. , to better educate her colleagues in Congress.”