Ag Groups Alarmed by SEC Climate Rule

Ag Groups Concerned SEC Climate Reporting Rule Will Hit Every Farmer, Rancher

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Staff Reporter
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More than 100 agriculture interest groups have asked the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission to extend the comment period on a proposed rule to require publicly traded companies to report climate information. (Photo by D Ramey Logan, CC-BY 4.0)

LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) -- 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 510-page 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."

AFBF said the "unprecedented overreach could create onerous reporting requirements" for farms and ranches of all sizes.

AFBF President Zippy Duvall said the proposed rule appears to be an "overreach" by the SEC.

"Farmers and ranchers are already heavily regulated by multiple agencies at the local, state and the federal level," he said. "New SEC reporting requirements will no doubt make an already complicated patchwork of regulations even more cumbersome."

The AFBF was one of 120 farm groups signing the letter requesting an extension of the comment period.

"Unlike the large corporations currently regulated by the SEC, family farms and ranches don't have teams of compliance officers," Duvall said.

AFBF said the public was given just 39 days to comment on the rule that contains more than 1,000 footnotes and raises more than 700 direct questions.

"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.

"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."

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 chains.

Read the ag groups' letter here: https://www.fb.org/….

Todd Neeley can be reached at todd.neeley@dtn.com

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Todd Neeley