GOP introduces bill to exclude ag from SEC climate rules

Congressman Frank Lucas, R-OK, who serves on the House Committee and Financial Services and is a former chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-AR, ranking member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, and U.S. Sen. Mike Braun, R-IN, reintroduced legislation to protect family farmers and ranchers from burdensome greenhouse gas emissions reporting rules proposed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The Protect Farmers from the SEC Act would exempt family farmers and ranchers from being included in the indirect GHG reporting requirements, ensuring they would not be 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.

“America’s family farmers and ranchers face many challenges in the marketplace as they work to produce more commodities while using fewer resources. The SEC’s efforts to use financial regulation to implement a climate agenda would hinder the ability of American farmers and ranchers to compete in global markets and creating onerous compliance requirements for operations with few or no employees,” Lucas said. “Nevertheless, federal securities laws already require publicly traded companies to disclose material risks to investors, the SEC’s ill-advised climate disclosure rule undermines the materiality standard for environmental policy purposes.”

“All it takes is a basic understanding of how agriculture works to see how misguided this proposal is—particularly when it comes to the so-called ‘value chain’ rules. The SEC can claim compliance will fall to the publicly traded corporations the SEC oversees, but the reality is it will be up to America’s family farmers and ranchers who will have to keep up with an unprecedented amount of unnecessary paperwork,” Boozman said. “Our farmers and ranchers are struggling with record high input costs, supply chain bottlenecks, labor shortages, drought and other natural disasters. Yet, the administration, with its never-ending focus on climate change, wants to bury them with reams of paperwork as well.”

In March 2022, the SEC proposed a rule, “The Enhancement and Standardization of Climate-Related Disclosures for Investors” (climate disclosure rule), that would require publicly traded companies to disclose GHG emissions 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 entire 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.

The Protect Farmers from the SEC Act is backed by leading agriculture organizations including the American Farm Bureau, National Pork Producers Council, National Cotton Council, USA Rice, American Soybean Association, U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives and the National Potato Council.

Lucas introduced the Protect Farmers from the SEC Act in the 117th Congress, alongside Ranking Member Boozman who introduced the Senate companion.