Senators’ Bill Would Exempt Farmers from SEC Regulation on GHG Emissions

Source: By Jerry Hagstrom, Progressive Farmer • Posted: Tuesday, December 6, 2022

WASHINGTON (DTN) — Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., and Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., last week introduced a bill to exempt farmers from the Securities and Exchange Commission’s proposal for what they call “burdensome” greenhouse gas emissions reporting rules.

Two Republicans in the House, Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Mich., and Rep. Andy Barr, R-Ky, also have introduced the Mandatory Materiality Requirement Act of 2022. Their bill would change the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 to add language essentially blocking the SEC from requiring companies to report their greenhouse gas emissions. The bill by Huizenga and Barr mirrors a similar bill by Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., as well.

The proposed SEC reporting rule would require businesses to provide detailed information on their emissions in their reports to the commission. Public companies would also be required to report their climate risks as well.

The American Farm Bureau Federation has led criticisms against the SEC proposal, saying food and agribusiness companies would force farmers around the country to detail their emissions.

These bills will likely see some movement next year in the House when Republicans take control of the chamber.

Boozman and Braun noted that the SEC has proposed requiring all public companies to disclose greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from operations a company owns or controls; from the generation of purchased electricity, steam, heat or cooling that is consumed by company operations; and, if material, indirect GHG emissions that occur in the upstream and downstream activities of a registrant’s value chain.

“The value chain reporting component of this proposal would place a reporting burden on the farmers and ranchers that provide raw products to the value-chain, and would inundate small, family-owned farms with costly compliance requirements,” they said in a statement.

The Protect Farmers from the SEC Act would “exempt family farmers and ranchers from these reporting requirements, ensuring they are not required to track and disclose granular on-farm data regarding individual operations and day-to-day activities in order to stay compliant with the companies that purchase their products,” Boozman and Braun said.

“The authors of this rule clearly lack an understanding of how agriculture works. The publicly traded corporations overseen by the SEC won’t be the ones tasked with complying with these onerous ‘value chain’ rules,” said Boozman, ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

“That responsibility would fall on America’s family farmers and ranchers who would be forced to deal with unprecedented amount 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,” Boozman said.

“Since I’ve been in the Senate, I’ve been a leading voice for the climate benefit of farming,” Braun said, “but this SEC regulation was drafted to meet out-of-touch climate metrics, not to meet reality.”

The senators noted that their act is backed by the American Farm Bureau, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Pork Producers Council, USA Rice, National Cotton Council, American Sugar Alliance, American Soybean Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Corn Growers Association, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, U.S. Poultry and Egg Association, United Egg Producers and Agriculture Retailers Association.

A companion bill was introduced in the House of Representatives earlier this year by Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla.

– S.5135 — Protect Farmers from the SEC Act https://www.congress.gov/…

Senate Ag to hold research hearing Tuesday

The Senate Agriculture Committee will hold a farm bill hearing Tuesday on Agriculture Department research programs.

The hearing will be held at 10 a.m. in Room 328A of the Russell Senate Office Building.

Senate office buildings are closed to the public due to COVID-19 concerns, but the hearing will be livestreamed on the Senate Agriculture Committee website.

Witnesses will be:

-Agriculture Undersecretary for Research, Education and Economics Chavonda Jacobs Young

– Jason Rowntree, CS Mott Chair of Sustainable Agriculture; director, MSU Center for Regenerative Agriculture; professor, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich.

– Felecia Nave, president, Alcorn State University. Lorman, Miss.

– Kat Rainey, associate professor, director, Purdue Soybean Center, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind.

– Steve Ela, partner and manager, Ela Family Farms, Hotchkiss, Colo.

– Deacue Fields, vice president for agriculture, University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, Little Rock, Ark.

Link to livestream of hearing: https://www.agriculture.senate.gov/…

DTN Ag Policy Editor Chris Clayton contributed to this report.

Jerry Hagstrom can be reached at jhagstrom@nationaljournal.com

Follow him on Twitter @hagstromreport

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