U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, and committee member Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN) have introduced a bill, Protect Farmers from the SEC Act, that would oppose a March 2022 proposal from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which they claim would place a heavy burden on family farmers and ranchers.
The SEC’s proposal would require public companies “to provide certain climate-related information in their registration statements and annual reports. The proposed rules would require information about a registrant’s climate-related risks that are reasonably likely to have a material impact on its business, results of operations or financial condition.”
In the words of SEC Chair Gary Gensler, “[T]oday, investors representing literally tens of trillions of dollars support climate-related disclosures because they recognize that climate risks can pose significant financial risks to companies, and investors need reliable information about climate risks to make informed investment decisions.”
Sens. Boozman and Braun, however, claim the proposal would place a reporting burden on farmers and ranchers that provide raw products to the value chain, inundating small, family-owned farms with paperwork and compliance requirements. As such, their bill would make the following addition to the requirements:
“The Commission may not require an issuer to disclose greenhouse gas emissions from upstream or downstream activities in the issuer’s value chain from the production, manufacturing or harvesting of an agricultural product, as defined in section 207 of the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 (7 U.S.C. 1626).”
“The authors of this rule clearly lack an understanding of how agriculture works,” said Sen. Boozman. “The publicly traded corporations overseen by the SEC won’t be the ones tasked with complying with these onerous ‘value chain’ rules. That responsibility would fall on America’s family farmers and ranchers who would be forced to deal with unprecedented amounts of unnecessary paperwork. This is the last thing they need to deal with as they struggle in the face of record-high input costs, supply chain bottlenecks, labor shortages, drought and other natural disasters.”
“Since I’ve been in the Senate, I’ve been a leading voice for the climate benefit of farming, but this SEC regulation was drafted to meet out-of-touch climate metrics, not to meet reality,” said Sen. Braun. “I’ve heard from countless Hoosier farmers who are worried about what this regulation means for their farms and their livelihoods. I am proud to introduce this legislation with Sen. Boozman to put a stop to the Biden administration’s federal overreach on Hoosier farms and ranches.”
Many leading agriculture organizations have backed the bill, including the American Farm Bureau, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Pork Producers Council, USA Rice, National Cotton Council and many others.