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Cap And Trade

Published on April 8th, 2010 | by Susan Kraemer


John Deere Takes Hit for Support for Farming

April 8th, 2010 by  

Farming in many regions of the US is likely to be among the worst casualties of climate change over the next decades. So it is an obvious, ethical, sensible and responsible move that John Deere supports climate and energy legislation to reduce our use of climate-changing fossil fuels, through its membership in US-CAP.org


Predictably, however, Deere is being targeted by attack ads by Freedomworks that will be shown on CNN, Fox News, Headline News and the History Channel.

The lobbying group FreedomWorks is the group that created the Tea Party movement. Based in Washington, DC, it is run by Dick Armey, a former House Republican Majority Leader who is now a fossil industry lobbyist.

Their next target is climate legislation that threatens the fossil industry with caps on pollution. This has put John Deere squarely in their sights.

In typical astroturf Freedonworks fashion, the ads imply that it is Deere employees who are the injured party, not coal, oil and diesel company executives. These urge Deere employees to “stand up against back room deals in Washington. Tell management: No more back room deals.”

(Of course, if these same fossil industries that create these astroturf lobbying groups did not immobilize half the Senate with bribery, it would be possible to create good, sensible legislation – that is in the public interest – in front rooms.)

Freedomworks funded the furor over ending health insurance company abuses as equating to “killing grannies” last year, but the real impetus behind the lobby group is their well funded prevention of any curbs on the fossil industry. They orchestrated the removal of Van Jones last year.

Under cap-and-trade legislation, major producers (25,000 tons annually) of carbon dioxide, such as coal-fired power plants, would have their volume of carbon emissions capped at lower and lower limits each year, which would make continuing business-as-usual more and more expensive each year.

The climate legislation being proposed would fund alternative energy sources to replace fossil fuels, with the funding for the switch being supplied by the fees on polluters, which they could compete amongst themselves to lower, by swapping credits with competitors within their industry who were less able to become more energy-efficient.

The companies would either have to reduce their emissions volume or buy increasingly rare and expensive permits from their competitors that have been able to earn extras by reducing their fossil fuel pollution.

Examples of ways to reduce fossil energy use include switching to clean, renewable American solar, wind, waves, or geothermal energy, or incorporating combined heat & power with fossil fuels to effectively halve the pollution-rate-per-unit of produced energy. Deere has been a leader in fuel efficiency innovation.

The company has long believed “effective policy to address global climate change ought to include the benefits of developing and supporting renewable energy sources such as biomass – both agriculture and forestry, wind and bio-technologies, as well as processing and distribution improvements.”

Kudos to John Deere for taking a courageous stand against the most dangerous, powerful and rich industry lobby on the planet, in joining with US-CAP. American Businesses for Clean Energy and US-CAP.org are coalitions of businesses allied with Deere for a livable future. That is not so radical.

But don’t be surprised to see John Deere trashed on TV by the real evildoers in the fossil lobby’s front group Freedomworks over the coming months.

Image: John Deere

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About the Author

writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today and Renewable Energy World.  She has also been published at Wind Energy Update, Solar Plaza, Earthtechling PV-Insider , and GreenProphet, Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow, and Scientific American. As a former serial entrepreneur in product design, Susan brings an innovator's perspective on inventing a carbon-constrained civilization: If necessity is the mother of invention, solving climate change is the mother of all necessities! As a lover of history and sci-fi, she enjoys chronicling the strange future we are creating in these interesting times.    Follow Susan on Twitter @dotcommodity.

  • Reedtwil

    Freedom works is working hard “tilting at windmills” when it comes to climate change, they don’t want their market to disappear before nature forces it from them. It’s a fools errand, but every second the industry can sell is money to be made.

  • Raven Dave

    I understand John Deere might be looking into supplemental hydrogen boosters made by Highline Technical Innovation. If true this could be a big saving for farmers. It has been reported of fuel savings from 18% to 30% on diesel engines and up to 50% emissions reduction.

  • Speakers

    I work in one of Deere’s numerous divisions as a contractor, so I’m obligated to say that these views are my own opinion and I do not represent the company or its views in any way.

    Many of Deere’s products are made right here “in the heartland of America” (Iowa and Illinois), so if they’re bashing hurts Deere’s sales, customers may end up buying a cheap chinese or korean product instead. Some might say that they are kicking American manufacturing while it’s down.

    Deere also invests in wind and bio-fuels (see Deere’s Credit pages). Surprise again, these are American companies recieving these loans! Jobs! YAY!

    Also, I need to point out that all U.S. Ag vehicles are about to be very green. Look at EPA tiers for emissions restrictions:


    All manufacturers have to meet these regulations.

    Deere’s been meeting EPA Tiers for over 10 years now. If FreedomWorks has their way and removes this legislation, every Ag company in the U.S. will be out BILLIONS of dollars of R&D costs. Oh yea, and 1000’s of engineers will get laid off from these Ag companies.

    In addition to meeting those legal requirements, Deere has long been a leader in fuel efficiency because it HELPS THE FARMERS!! A tractor is run for many 1000’s of hours during its lifetime; less diesel equals less cost!! It’s awefully convenient that Deere has had top of class fuel efficiency for years, but they choose now to take issue with it.

    Fat chance getting the UAW (Deere equipment is union made) on their side. Deere’s fuel economy is one of many selling points that keeps everybody in the job.

    Anyways, i’ve rambled on. I’m proud to be associated with Deere and these people need to remember that they’re attacking American engineering and manufacturing jobs, and more indirectly, American farmers, when they attack Deere.

    FreedomWorks can manufacturer outrage towards political opponents out of tough times, but they offer no solutions. They would hope to harm Americans for their own political gain.

    • Thanks for the inside view, Speakers. Great points.

  • I agree with your premise and find pretty much anything Dick Armey and FreedomWorks does despicable. However, I have to ask: By your provided link to Armey’s being a fossil industry lobbyist, it also says that his firm represents DuPont, who is a member of US-CAP and likely a couple other US-CAP organizations.

    Is this just a case of the lobbying firm lining its pockets no matter who wins, or does this do damage to the case that it’s a massive conflict of interest for Armey to be leading this crusade?


  • armfarm

    As a farmer i know that De has used the profits it makes off us to invest in Wind energy to the tune of 100M. the reason was to sell carbon creidts. So the way it works is C&T increase farmers costs they cannot pass on. DE sells to those who cannot pay for their increased costs and then instead of helping heir cutomers who made them supports a C&T system they are geared to profit from. As the old saying goes. “follow the money” it aint about climate change to DE folks.

    • @Armfarm: The reason to invest in wind energy is to make for a livable climate in the future, so you can farm and we can eat what you farm. You won’t be able to grow corn and soy here by the end of this century (82% drop) if we don’t stop using fossil fuels that are changing climates regionally.


      Kudos to john Deere for caring and acting – despite a very sinister disinformation campaign (by those who make millions off of the fossil energy industry) that keeps people like you ignorant of the huge danger that climate change presents to your future and ours.

  • Thanks, Tarquin, I do appreciate advice.

    In this case, since Deere is a victim of this bullying just for its US-CAP membership – which I link – I don’t think a quote advances that.

    Since this blog specializes in covering renewable energy solutions to climate change, (both improvements in, and impediments to) whether technical or political – we do take the side of (express opinions about) climate solutions when we cover stories.

    This ad campaign is the latest round of McCarthyist bullying against those who support solutions.

    Google John Deere Freedomworks and you will not see that, say, the New York Times has come out to defend Deere against this massively well-funded PR machine (or connect it to the similar campaign against Van Jones).

    Bloggers fill that gap.

  • Tarquin

    Just a little word of advice from a journalism student. You should actually mention how John Deere supported this legislation.

    In your lede, it seems like YOU think John Deere SHOULD support climate legislation. A quote from a John Deere representative would go a long way.

    As this story is written, it’s no more than a vague opinion piece with absolutely no merit whatsoever.

  • 3DTV Informer

    hi-ya, great post.

  • Thanks, Ben. I did too. These thugs turn on any of those that try to do the right thing for all of us(because it hurts their backers).

  • naame

    Thanks Ben. I just took the time to send John Deere a message showing my support for their efforts.

  • Ben

    Frank, tell them yourself how you feel (I did). Send them a message here:


  • That is unfortunate. I hope that people stand with John Deere against Freedomworks, but their followers seemed convinced that initiatives to ensure our future are not needed.

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