SEC's proposed ESG rule will leave small farms in the lurch, lawmakers from both parties say

Farmers would be forced to give onerous climate data to public companies under SEC's proposed ESG rule, lawmakers warn

FIRST ON FOX — More than 100 House members from both parties are attacking a proposed Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rule that they say will put "unworkable" regulatory requirements on small farms. 

In a letter led by Rep. John Rose, R-Tenn., the lawmakers said a proposed rule for "Enhanced and Standardization of Climate-Related Disclosures for Investors" could block farmers from working with public companies. 

In all, 118 House members are signing the letter, including two swing-district Democrats in Reps. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., and Elaine Luria. D-Va.

"To do business with public companies, small farms would be required to disclose a significant amount of climate-related information," the letter, sent to SEC Chairman Gary Gensler, read. "But unlike large corporations, small farms do not have full-scale compliance departments."


"It is not within the purview of the SEC to regulate farmers and ranchers, which is what this rule would do by requiring public companies to disclose their Scope 3 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions," the members added. 

Rep. John Rose, R-Tenn., is pressing the SEC on a proposed rule that he and more than 100 other House lawmakers say would effectively bar U.S. farmers from working with public companies. (Rep. Rose campaign) (Rep. Rose campaign / Fox News)

The proposed rule is part of a recent trend on environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing, in which investors evaluate those criteria in addition to a standard data on business performance. 

According to the SEC, the proposed rule in question would "require registrants to include certain climate-related disclosures in their registration statements and periodic reports, including information about climate-related risks that are reasonably likely to have a material impact on their business, results of operations, or financial condition."

Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich.

Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call / Getty Images)


"I am pleased to support today’s proposal because, if adopted, it would provide investors with consistent, comparable, and decision-useful information for making their investment decisions," Gensler said in a March statement when the rule was proposed. 

The American Farm Bureau Federation, which is supporting the Rose-led letter, says that farmers and ranchers would not be subject to directly reporting climate information to the SEC. But the requirement that companies report their "Scope 3" greenhouse gas emissions, both upstream and downstream in their supply chains, would effectively force farmers and ranchers to track that data, the Farm Bureau said. 

Rep Elaine Luria

Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va., during a town hall at New Hope Baptist Church in Virginia Beach, VA, on Thursday, October 3, 2019. (Parker Michels-Boyce for The Washington Post via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Therefore, the SEC would effectively be banning farmers and ranchers from participating with major sectors of the U.S. economy unless they spend significant time and resources tracking environmental data, according to the Farm Bureau.

"Bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. — specifically unelected SEC staff — who have no jurisdiction over environmental policy and who have never stepped foot on a farm should not have such influence over how farmers take care of their land," the letter said. 

"The time and energy put into complying with this new regulation will divert American farmers away from their primary goal of producing our nation’s food, fuel, and fiber" it continued. 

SEC Gary Gensler

Gary Gensler, Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), testifies during the Senate hearing on September 14, 2021 in Washington, DC.  (BILL CLARK/POOL/AFP via Getty Images / Getty Images)


The letter also cited privacy concerns and slammed the SEC for its abbreviated comment period for the rule. Lawmakers urged the SEC commissioners to "scrap this rule entirely" 

"The SEC has clearly overstepped its bounds and proposed a rule that would have devastating effects on our farmers," Rose said in a statement. "They should listen to farmers and reverse this terrible proposal before putting our entire nationwide supply of safe and affordable food and agricultural products at risk."

Among the Republicans besides Rose backing the resolution are House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., and Reps. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, John Katko, R-N.Y., Matt Rosendale, R-Mont., and Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa.