Vilsack raises concern with SEC climate reporting plan

By Marc Heller | 02/15/2024 01:13 PM EST

The USDA secretary said he worries that requiring climate emissions reporting could contradict the voluntary nature of farm conservation programs.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. Charlie Neibergall/AP

A much-delayed proposal by the Securities and Exchange Commission to require climate emissions tracking by corporations may work against farmers unless it’s scaled back, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Thursday.

At a news conference at the Agriculture Department’s annual outlook forum in Arlington, Virginia, Vilsack said he worries that deep reporting requirements — such as detailed emissions throughout the food supply chain, to the farm level — would contradict the voluntary spirit of conservation that runs through the USDA’s programs.

“I think it becomes problematic if it basically gets to a point where you have individual farming reportables,” Vilsack said. “It gets back to this notion of voluntary, incentive-based and market-based.”


The SEC proposed in 2022 to require publicly traded companies to disclose various information related to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, including risks to the company, direct greenhouse gas emissions and, in some cases, so-called Scope 3 emissions in their supply chains.