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Viewpoint: Farmers should support financial tools to fight climate change

  • July 5, 2022
(William Munoz/Missoula Current)

Montana Sen. Jon Tester, the only active farmer in the senate, identified the problem when he said, “I just came off the worst year ever on my farm. We need to do something on climate change. I think we spent $144 billion this year on disasters, and I don’t think that included crop insurance. So we need to do something on climate too.”

Agricultural producers are on the front lines of climate change and are experiencing the impacts now. Mega droughts, fire, floods, and other extreme weather events cost $145 billion in 2021. And that’s before crop insurance payments are accounted for.

More troubling, the total costs for the last five years – $764.9 billion – is more than a third of the combined costs for the last 42 years, according to data collected by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

One of the tools we can utilize to prevent climate change from becoming significantly worse is to standardize the way large publicly traded companies measure and report their carbon emissions. Those companies can’t manage their climate related financial risks if they don’t estimate and report those emissions.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is proposing a climate-related financial risk disclosure rule that will set a level playing field for all large publicly traded companies. It’s designed to help American businesses, including agricultural businesses, adapt their operations and supply chains to a changing climate. Several agribusiness and food companies have already pledged to reduce their emissions, including Archer Daniels Midland, Tyson Foods, General Mills and Molson Coors.

The proposed rule will help these publicly traded companies keep their promises.

Some advocacy groups and members of Congress have erroneously stated that the SEC rule would require farmers and ranchers to collect large amounts of data and report

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