Cattle Industry Fights Controversial SEC Climate Rule
Source: National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA)
June 17, 2022
WASHINGTON (June 17, 2022) – Today, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) filed comments on the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) controversial proposed greenhouse gas disclosure rule. The rule would require publicly traded companies to disclose their direct (scope 1), energy/electricity consumption (scope 2), and supply chain emissions (scope 3), creating a burden on cattle producers who supply beef to publicly traded processors, restaurants, and retailers.
“With cattle producers facing record inflation, rising input costs and labor shortages, another bureaucratic rule from Washington is a burden we cannot afford,” said NCBA President Don Schiefelbein, a cattle producer from Kimball, Minnesota. “Policymakers should be focused on lowering costs and solving the real problems facing farmers and ranchers, not creating more complex rules that require a team of lawyers to understand.”
While the proposed rule is aimed at public companies, mandating the disclosure of scope 3 emissions would place a burden on cattle producers who supply beef to public entities. Additionally, the federal government has acknowledged that accurately calculating emissions on the farm or ranch level is impossible, while industry-wide metrics are already collected by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) at a level that should satisfy federal regulators.
“Cattle farmers and ranchers are America’s original conservationists. Thanks to decades of innovation and continuous improvement, cattle account for just 2% of overall U.S. greenhouse gas emissions,” said NCBA Environmental Counsel Mary-Thomas Hart. “Cattle producers have a proven track record of sustainable practices and should not be penalized with overreaching rules from an agency with no expertise in agriculture.”
In addition to submitting technical comments, individual cattle producers submitted over 6,700 letters to the commissioners of the SEC and members of Congress to inform them of the widespread unintended sequences this rule would have on the cattle and beef industry.
NCBA’s technical comments were filed with a coalition of agricultural organizations including the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Pork Producers Council, National Cotton Council, National Corn Growers Association, National Potato Council, American Soybean Association, Agricultural Retailers Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, U.S. Poultry & Egg Association. Numerous NCBA state and breed affiliates submitted comments as well.
The SEC is a Wall Street regulator, not an environmental or agricultural agency. This proposed rule goes far outside the SEC’s primary jurisdiction and places an unreasonable burden on private small businesses, farms, and ranches. NCBA has urged the SEC to limit the proposed rule to publicly traded companies—the agency’s actual jurisdiction.
For agriculture specifically, this rule would force private entities to release confidential information. Court decisions like American Farm Bureau Federation v. EPA have solidified the right to producer data privacy. Industry-wide emissions data is already collected through the annual EPA Greenhouse Gas Inventory and USDA Life Cycle Assessments, which should satisfy any requirement for supply chain emissions data.