Illinois Farm Bureau has issued an action request, asking FB ACT members to communicate their support for a pair of bills that would exempt farmers from a proposed rule requiring climate-related disclosures for publicly traded companies.
The 510-page proposed rule, known as the Enhancement and Standardization of Climate Related Disclosures for Investors, was introduced this spring by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
If adopted, the rule would require registrants to provide certain climate- related information in their registration statements and annual reports, including potentially invasive and burdensome information about farms.
The required information would also include disclosure of a registrant’s greenhouse gas emissions and certain climate-related financial metrics in a registrant’s audited financial statements.
Farmers are not currently “registrants” or subject in any way to the jurisdiction and oversight of the SEC, but the proposed rule would change that.
Doing so would burden agricultural producers, particularly small and mid-sized farms, who lack the resources and means to document all of the necessary disclosure information, IFB, American Farm Bureau Federation and many U.S. House Republicans have argued in comments and letters submitted to SEC.
And that additional input along with other increased production costs would further hinder the ability of farmers to compete in global markets, according to ag stakeholders.
“We have tremendous concern about the negative impact this (rule) is going to have on production agriculture,” Mark Gebhards, IFB’s executive director of governmental affairs and commodities, told the RFD Radio Network.
“It’s going to cause our folks to jump through a lot of hoops they should not have to jump through in order to account for any emissions that might be happening on their farmstead as they sell their commodities to end users,” Gebhards said.
Legislation, however, has been introduced in the House to insulate farmers from the rule.
One bill, called the Stopping Excessive Climate Reporting Act and co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, would restrict the SEC from requiring disclosure of any information about greenhouse gas emissions when it isn’t material.
Another bill, called the Protect Farmers from the SEC Act and to be introduced by U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., would prohibit the SEC from requiring disclosure of greenhouse gas emissions from upstream and downstream activities arising from a farm.
It also defines what constitutes a farm, agricultural or horticultural commodities, upstream and downstream activities and greenhouse gasses, and removes the SEC’s exemptive authority in relation to the bill.
IFB is calling on members to urge Illinois’ congressional delegation to both cosponsor each bill and vote “yes” if either bill is called for a vote.
A link to the request can be found at https://p2a.co/EooLGoi. Members can also text “SEC” to 52886 to join the request. The request will be live until further notice.
“The bills would basically protect farmers from this SEC rule. In other words, exempt out production agriculture from this SEC proposed rule,” Gebhards said. “Critically important issue, we really need folks to weigh-in on it.”