Proposed bill would exempt farmers and ranchers from SEC climate change reporting rules

Republican senators have introduced legislation to put the brakes on implementing a rule that would require all public companies to disclose greenhouse gas emissions from operations a company owns or controls.

The climate change disclosure proposal was announced by the Securities and Exchange Commission in March last year. Sens. John Boozman (R-Arkansas), ranking member of the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, and committee member Mike Braun (R-Indiana) introduced the Protect Farmers from the SEC Act on Nov. 30, in an attempt to  exempt family farmers and ranchers from the reporting requirements and to ensure they would not be required to track and disclose granular on-farm data regarding individual operations and day-to-day activities to comply with the companies that purchase their products.

“The value chain reporting component of this proposal would place an undue burden on the farmers and ranchers who provide raw products to the value chain, inundating small, family-owned farms with costly compliance requirements,” according to the statement announcing the bill’s introduction.

The SEC has insisted that the rule does not target farmers, though lawmakers remain skeptical. A group of Senate Democrats sent a letter to the SEC Chairman Gary Gensler asking for more time for the public to consider his proposals. Earlier this month, Sen. Jon Tester (D-Montana), a farmer himself, sent a letter to Gensler urging him not to unfairly burden farmers with the proposed climate emissions rule. “America’s family farmers and ranchers face many challenges in the marketplace as they work to feed the world,” he wrote, adding that it’s “critically important” to avoid “any unnecessary red tape.”

“The authors of this rule clearly lack an understanding of how agriculture works,” Boozman said in a statement. “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.”

The senate bill is currently backed by almost 15 agriculture trade groups.  Similar legislation was introduced in the House earlier this year, sponsored by Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Oklahoma). Boozman’s office said the senator expects to move the bill soon and not wait to add it to the upcoming reauthorization of the farm bill.