Friday, Ohio Farm Bureau submitted public comments in a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission over a proposed rule that could seriously impact family farms by requiring public companies to disclose climate information.
This letter adds to the 8,500 comments submitted by Farm Bureau members across the country who participated in the American Farm Bureau’s Action Alert on this issue. The letter emphasized that Farm Bureau members are committed to transparency in climate-related matters to inform our stakeholders in a manner consistent with existing practices in the agriculture industry.
“However, without changes and clarifications, the proposed rules would be extremely cumbersome and costly, if not impossible, for many small and medium-sized farmers to comply with, as they require the reporting of climate data at the local level,” the letter reads. “The rule will only encourage consolidation for those who lack the resources to comply.”
Such consolidation would have far-reaching socio-economic consequences, including further erosion of rural tax bases. If further consolidation were to occur, it could seriously hamper the ability of local communities to finance education, social services and access to health care.
The letter urged the SEC to realize that agriculture plays a vital role in the social fabric of rural communities that largely revolve around the agricultural industry, especially small and medium-sized farmers.
“We do not believe the SEC has fully considered or sufficiently sought to mitigate the potential socio-economic impact of the proposed rules on farming communities,” said Brandon Kern, senior director of state and national policy at the SEC. ‘Ohio Farm Bureau. “We also believe the proposed rules will not only negatively impact farmers, but will also hurt consumers and erode the strength of the US agriculture industry.”
The letter highlighted how the proactive efforts already underway by Ohio farmers will have a more significant impact on reducing carbon emissions and promoting carbon capture in agriculture than the proposed rule. and spoke about how Farm Bureau members are concerned the rule could have a chilling impact on proactive efforts if farmers are forced to devote more resources to new regulatory compliance.
The Ohio Farm Bureau encouraged the Commission to consider removing the concept of “value chain” from the proposed rules, removing or significantly revising the Scope 3 emissions disclosure requirement to include a exception for the agricultural industry and to ensure that the final rules do not include location data. GHG emissions disclosures, which may inadvertently disclose the private information of Farm Bureau members, among other requests.
With the comment period now over, the SEC must file a final rule, which is expected in late summer or fall. In the meantime, Farm Bureau will work with members of Congress on legislative action if the requested rule changes are not accepted by the SEC.