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INFB outlines ag issues that could impact Hoosier farmers

The national affairs coordinator with Indiana Farm Bureau says there is a long list of federal agricultural issues that could potentially impact Hoosier farmers.

Brantley Seifers says the Securities and Exchange Commission’s proposed disclosure rule, for example, could potentially impact smaller farms.

“That SEC rule kind of came out of left field. The SEC is not something that we deal with as farmers everyday. Bigger companies that are publicly traded have to deal with the SEC and have compliance officers to help with that. Family farms don’t worry about it and have never had to,” he says. “Having this proposed rule with Scope 3 greenhouse gas emission requirements that go up and down the supply chain would mean the family farm now. Think about bringing grain to the elevator and needing to report your diesel that went into that grain. Now think about the fertilizer and everything else that goes into the crop and reporting that, tracking that, and providing that data. One, it’s a compliance issues because your family farm can’t be tracking all of this data and reporting it; at least not easily and not for cheap. And then two, it’s a data privacy issue of where that data goes and how it’s utilized.”

The Enhancement and Standardization of Climate Related Disclosures for Investors would require a public company to report emissions from its value chain.

Indiana Farm Bureau and American Farm Bureau have been working to prevent the proposed rule from going into effect.  

“AFBF put out an action alert at the national level and then Indiana Farm Bureau did the same,” he says. “We’ve had several different action alerts go out to our members encouraging them, when the comment period was open for this rule, to submit comments. Even now farmers can reach out to their representative and tell them how the rule isn’t going to work for theirfamily farm.”

AFBF and other agricultural groups submitted comments and recommendations to the SEC including removing the “value chain” concept from the proposed rules, revising the Scope 3 emissions disclosure requirement to allow for agriculture exemptions, removing the requirement that registrants provide disclosures pertaining to climate-related targets and goals; revising the proposed rules so that disclosures of greenhouse gas emissions operate in unison with existing federal emissions reporting programs, and ensuring a final rule doesn’t include location data disclosures for greenhouse gas emissions.

Seifers says a decision on the SEC proposed rule should come out by the end of the year.

The 2023 Farm Bill is also top of mind for Indiana Farm Bureau members. Seifers provides an update on priorities outlined by the organization’s farm bill task force.

“The task force worked throughout the summer and came out with a report. We’ve been using that report in DC and on the farm to educate our legislators about what our priorities are going into this,” he says. “…Priority number one is to protect and maintain crop insurance programs. Two, is the conservation piece, or Title II of the farm bill. The rumor that we’ve heard is that they might try to tie our first priority to conservation piece; making it mandatory that in order to get crop insurance you’re using conservation. Title II should stay in the bill, but not tied to crop insurance. We want to make sure conservation programs are incentive based and voluntary. The third priority is making sure this farm bill and the farm portion stay with the nutrition portion. Simply put, it’s how we get bipartisan bills passed. We’re hoping for a very strong, bipartisan farm bill and that starts with keeping nutrition within the farm bill.”

He says the organization is confident a bipartisan bill can be completed in 2023.  

Farmers are also closely watching updates on Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS), Seifers says.

This week, the new session of the Supreme Court began with oral arguments in Sackett vs. EPA, a case that will inform how the agency defines WOTUS under the Clean Water Act. Separately, rulemaking is underway for the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to update the definition of WOTUS.

“Our concern here and the update is that the administration is pushing through regardless of the Supreme Court case,” he says. “We’d like to see the EPA hold off on making any new WOTUS rule until it gets the decision from the Supreme Court…we’re looking for certainty and it doesn’t look like certainty is on the horizon if EPA continues to move forward with this rule before Sackett vs. EPA case comes down.”

Seifers says INFB members should continue to tell lawmakers that potential changes to WOTUS could impact their farms.

Members discussed these ag issues and more when Indiana senators and congressmen and congresswomen visited farms around the state during the August recess.

Audio: Brantley Seifers

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