Proposed SEC Rule Could Hurt Every U.S. Farmer and Rancher

by Colter Brown

More than 100 agriculture interest groups say farmers and ranchers could have to report personal and business-related information to the Securities Exchange Commission if a rule to require publicly traded businesses to report climate efforts is finalized.

In a letter sent to the agency on Tuesday, the groups asked the SEC for a 180-day extension to submit public comments on the rule.

The “Enhancement and Standardization of Climate Related Disclosures for Investors” proposed rule has been touted by the SEC as a way to protect investors in publicly traded companies. It would require those companies to report data about their entire supply chain.

The American Farm Bureau Federation said in a news release, “Nearly every farmer’s and rancher’s products eventually touch a publicly traded company, meaning that farmers and ranchers could be forced to report personal information and business-related data. This unprecedented overreach could create onerous reporting requirements for even small farms and ranches with few or no employees.”

“This appears to be an example of overreach by the Securities and Exchange Commission,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “Farmers and ranchers are already heavily regulated by multiple agencies at the local, state and the federal level. New SEC reporting requirements will no doubt make an already complicated patchwork of regulations even more cumbersome.

“Farmers and ranchers are focused on growing the food, fuel and fiber this country needs, and have never been subjected to SEC regulations. Unlike the large corporations currently regulated by the SEC, family farms and ranches don’t have teams of compliance officers. We urge the SEC to extend the comment period to allow those in agriculture time to understand the full impact of this proposal and offer meaningful input.”

The proposed rule is 510 pages long with 1,068 technical footnotes and almost 750 direct questions, but the SEC has only allowed 39 days for review.

The proposed rule “may create multiple, new sources of substantial costs and liabilities,” the letter states. “These include almost certain reporting obligations, technical challenges, significant financial and operational disruption and the risk of financially crippling legal liabilities. In doing so, the rule would have meaningful consequences for our members’ ability to produce this country’s food, fuel and fiber as well as for the security and stability of U.S. agricultural supply chains.”

“Further justification for this extension is the fact that the proposed rule’s expansive treatment of the reporting of ‘Scope 3′ greenhouse gas emissions not only directly affects our members’ operations, but in doing so may create multiple, new sources of substantial costs and liabilities,” the letter said.

The SEC proposal would require businesses to show how they identify and manage climate risks and how the risks affect companies.

Companies would then be required to report how their meeting climate pledges.

The proposal breaks emissions into three categories. Companies with more than $75 million in revenues would have to report so-called Scope 1 and 2 emissions directly from their operations. Scope 3 would cover emissions from customers and supply chain

Read the full letter here.



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