Farmers and ranchers safe from new greenhouse emissions reporting rule

The chief legal counsel for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association says the final rule from the Securities and Exchange Commission won’t require farmers and ranchers to provide the federal government with farm-level supply chain emissions reports.

Mary-Thomas Hart tells Brownfield that Wednesday’s rule was a change from what the SEC had initially proposed. “The SEC actually stripped out supply chain emissions reporting requirements, and I would say that that’s the product of a large effort by NCBA and other national ag trade associations and our members throughout the country to show the potential impact.”

Hart says farmers and ranchers don’t have time to do additional paperwork that they would not have been compensated for and, “It is impractical to ask a farm or ranch to complete a report like that.”

She says, “To finalize a rule today that I think appropriately limits these reporting requirements to those large, publicly traded companies and their direct emissions, I think is a huge win.”

Hart says there was also a federal court case a few years ago ruling it illegal to collect farm location data.

She says if SEC-regulated companies want to acquire farm-level greenhouse gas emissions data, they are welcome to do so on the open market, allowing producers to voluntarily provide information if they see value in doing so.

Wednesday’s SEC decision not to require farm-level emissions reporting is being applauded by others, including Ohio Farm Bureau, the International Dairy Foods Association, and Montana Senator Jon Tester.

AUDIO: Mary-Thomas Hart discusses the new SEC rule with Brownfield’s Larry Lee

Several agriculture groups and others have issued statements about the new ruling.

Mark Eisele, President, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association: “Since this proposal first arose in 2022, NCBA has worked to educate policymakers on the harmful unintended consequences caused by overreaching Scope 3 regulations. The final SEC rule that omits supply chain emissions reporting entirely is a testament to NCBA’s engagement with federal agencies and Congress to defend America’s cattle producers.”

Ty Higgins, Ohio Farm Bureau: ““The SEC’s proposed rules would have been wildly burdensome and expensive, if not altogether impossible for many small and mid-sized farmers to comply with, as it would have required reporting of climate data at the local level,” said Adam Sharp, executive vice president of Ohio Farm Bureau. “We appreciate the attention the agency gave to our members as it considered the impacts the Scope 3 rule proposals would have had on Ohio farmers.

American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall: “Since the rule was first proposed two years ago, AFBF and OFBF led the charge for the removal of Scope 3. Farm Bureau members from across the country sent almost 20,000 messages to the SEC and Capitol Hill, sharing their perspectives of how Scope 3 reporting would affect their farms. AFBF thanks SEC Chair Gary Gensler and his staff for their diligence in researching the unintended consequences of an overreaching Scope 3 requirement. Farmers are committed to protecting the natural resources they’ve been entrusted with, and they continue to advance climate-smart agriculture, but they cannot afford to hire compliance officers just to handle SEC reporting requirements. This is especially true for small farms that would have likely been squeezed out of the supply chain.”

International Dairy Foods Association President Michael Dykes: “IDFA is pleased that the SEC responded to our comments and listened to our industry by removing Scope 3 emissions from its final climate disclosure rules. The SEC proposal threatened to place significant financial burdens on millions of companies and businesses that fall outside of the SEC’s regulatory jurisdiction. The proposed rules demonstrated a lack of engagement with the dairy value chain and a lack of analysis of the economic and market effects on privately held and small entities directly impacted by the rule. Since introducing the rule, the SEC has learned U.S. dairy has committed significant resources to achieve ambitious environmental stewardship goals, including GHG neutrality, optimized water use, and improved water quality by 2050, resulting in a glass of milk with the smallest carbon-intensity footprint in the world. In fact, U.S. dairy is producing more than twice as much milk with half as many cows on much less land with much less water and feed than in 1960. This progress is a testament to the United States’ voluntary, incentive-based sustainability policies. IDFA remains committed to collaborating with producers and food companies to advance responsible sustainability principles.”

Montana Senator Jon Tester: “Montanans sent me to the Senate to stand up for rural America and to push back against burdensome regulations from Washington, D.C. that don’t work for our state. I know first-hand that there is more than enough work to go around on a family farm like mine,  from fixing up my combine to dealing with a lack of moisture, so the last thing family farmers need is for big corporations or the federal government to force them to fill out piles of unnecessary paperwork. I’m proud to have declared this requirement dead on arrival and to have fought every step of the way to stop it in its tracks so that our farmers can continue to focus on what’s important: feeding the world.”

Nebraska Congressman Mike Flood: “President Biden’s SEC continues to weaponize federal rulemaking against private job creators. This new regulation seeks to force job creators to disclose vast amounts of information long sought by activists. This isn’t about transparency – this is about an environmentalist dream to use the government to pressure companies to adopt anti-ag policies that will hurt consumers and middle America. This fight isn’t over. I will be supporting efforts to overturn the SEC’s draconian rule, so we can protect working Americans and our way of life.”

Indiana Farm Bureau President Randy Kron: ““This is a huge win for agriculture and we’re grateful the SEC listened to our concerns. In the original SEC rule proposed, farmers would have been required to track every single move they made that impacted greenhouse gas emissions. That means every time we run our combines, use fertilizer, sell a bushel of corn or any of the many other things farmers do every day as part of our jobs, we would have to report.”

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