Tester Again Pushes to Keep Burdensome Paperwork for Montana Farmers Out of Potential SEC Rule

In new letter, Senator reiterates longstanding concern that climate rule could lead to burdensome paperwork and bureaucracy for family farmers and ranchers

U.S. Senator Jon Tester today sent a letter to Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chair Gary Gensler reiterating his concerns that the agency’s proposed “climate disclosure rule” could lead to burdensome paperwork and bureaucracy for Montana family farmers and ranchers.

Tester and Senator Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) emphasized in their letter that American farmers feed the world and should not have to waste their time filling out burdensome paperwork: “American farmers and ranchers play a critical role in feeding the world, powering our economy, and addressing our changing climate. We all benefit when farmers and ranchers spend their time and resources towards growing food and caring for the land. The SEC must make sure that any final rule only impacts public companies, and does not indirectly regulate private companies.”

Tester specifically cited a family farm from eastern Montana as an example in the letter, noting that the SEC should not impose onerous rules that would require them to closely track their emissions: “For example, if a family farm in eastern Montana wants to sell barley to a large, publicly traded brewing company, the SEC has no business writing a rule that could require them to closely track the emissions related to their operations. Especially when it comes to Scope 3 requirements, the burden of collecting or estimating data should not outweigh the benefit to investors, and that burden cannot end up passed down to private entities in a public company’s supply chain.”

The Senators made clear that if the SEC is not able to craft a rule that won’t burden family farmers and ranchers, the agency should remove the Scope 3 requirements entirely: “If it is not possible to develop Scope 3 in a way that does not burden small businesses in a public company’s supply chain, including agricultural producers, it would be better to take it out of the final rule altogether.”

The Montana Farm Bureau Federation expressed their support for Tester’s letter:

“Scope 3 in the SEC’s proposed Climate Reporting rule unnecessarily burdens farmers and ranchers with unproductive record keeping and red tape,” said Cyndi Johnson, a small grains farmer from Conrad and President of the Montana Farm Bureau Federation. “Family farms and ranches should not be wrapped up in overreaching regulation that is meant for publicly traded companies so Scope 3 must be removed from the rule. We sincerely appreciate Senator Tester’s leadership on this issue and his efforts to see this dramatic regulatory overreach rolled back.”

As the only working dirt farmer in the U.S. Senate, Tester has been Montana’s leading champion for family farmers and ranchers and has repeatedly worked to make sure the SEC won’t hit them with onerous reporting requirements. 

In September, Tester pressed SEC Chair Gary Gensler during a Senate Banking Committee hearing about concerns that the agency’s “climate disclosure rule” could lead to burdensome paperwork and bureaucracy for Montana family farmers and ranchers. Tester also pressed Gensler during an earlier hearing in 2022, where he received a commitment from the Chairman that the rule would not include requirements for producers to report information to the SEC, and that public companies will be able to use an estimate and will not require the companies to collect any additional information from suppliers like family farmers and ranchers.

You can read Tester’s full letter to the SEC HERE.


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