(UPDATED COVERAGE, July 24) A U.S. Department of Agriculture study says growers stand to gain over the long-term from House-passed climate change legislation, but the USDA does not include any discussion of the bill’s effect on specialty crops.

“The USDA’s analysis shows that the agriculture sector will have modest costs in the short term and net benefits — perhaps significant net benefits — over the long-term,” the USDA report said.

On the expense side, the USDA report indicated that higher energy prices would cause net farm income to fall by an average of $600 million per year — or about 0.9% per year — in 2005 dollars from 2012 to 2018.

The study found that grower revenues from carbon offsets in the cap and trade system envisioned under the H.R. 2454 could equal about $2 billion per year in the short-term and up to $28 billion per year over the long-term.

However, the report only covered estimated economic effects on corn, sorghum, barley, oats, wheat, rice, soybeans, cattle, hogs, broilers, turkey, eggs and dairy and upland cotton. The study did not include any analysis on specialty crops.

Nancy Foster, president of the U.S. Apple Association, Vienna, Va., said in an e-mail July 23 that she was surprised the USDA did not include specialty crops in its analysis — particularly because the sector accounts for nearly half of all farm income.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack discussed the analysis, released July 22, at the Senate Agriculture Committee hearing on the effect of the House-passed climate change legislation on agriculture.

Lawmakers — notably senators Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., and former agriculture secretary Mike Johanns, R-Neb. — questioned Vilsack and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson on the lack of specific information and analysis related to commodity-specific and state-specific benefits and costs related to the climate change bill.

Vance Publishing Corp.'s Agritalk interviewed three prominent agriculture policy makers on climate change legislation (see audio file links below).

Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, chairman of the Senate's Agriculture Committee, says a climate change bill must pass; agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack outlines the bill's benefits; and former agriculture secretary Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., says growers question the government's estimates of those benefits.