House GOP targets Biden agriculture policies it says could put small farms out of business

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FIRST ON FOX – House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Glenn Thompson is introducing a bill Wednesday to strike back at several of the Biden administration's agriculture policies and a recently proposed SEC rule lawmakers say could harm small farms.

Thompson, R-Pa., is introducing the bill with more than 20 cosponsors at a time when Americans are dealing with significant inflation, including food prices. The bill is called the "Reducing Farm Input costs and Barriers to Domestic Production Act."

Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., the ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee, speaks at a hearing. (Rep. Glenn Thompson office) (Rep. Glenn Thompson office / Fox News)

"These are things that could be done immediately with the stroke of a pen by the Biden administration that would not just serve the agriculture community, but frankly more importantly, it would help to bring down the cost of food, which has been caught up in this Biden inflation," Thompson said in an interview. 

Among the several provisions in the bill is one which would rescind an SEC proposed rule to require "Scope 3" climate impact disclosures by public companies. Scope 3, under the rule, would mean that not only would a public company need to report information like carbon emissions from their own business but also from sources upstream and downstream in their supply chains. 

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Glenn Thompson Wednesday is introducing a bill aimed at reversing some of President Biden’s agriculture policies. (iStock) (iStock)

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Critics of the proposed rule, including more than 100 bipartisan House lawmakers who signed a letter opposing it last month, say this would effectively force small farms to track these states. Otherwise, they could be frozen out of working with public companies.  

"This particular provision is part of the Biden administration's war on Americans families and certainly the war on agriculture," Thompson told Fox News Digital. 

Thompson said the proposed SEC rule "usurps congressional authority" and would "result in small, medium-sized farmers going out of business, consolidating."

"Small farmers don't have the time or the resources to comply with this onerous requirement," Thompson said. 

Gary Gensler ,Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission( SEC), testifies during a Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee hearing on September 14, 2021 in Washington, DC. Gensler is supportive of a proposed rule to increase ESG rel ((Photo by BILL CLARK/POOL/AFP via Getty Images) / Getty Images)

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The proposed rule is part of a recent trend in environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing, in which investors evaluate those criteria in addition to standard data on business performance. 

SEC Chairman Gary Gensler said in a March statement he supports the proposed rule because "if adopted, it would provide investors with consistent, comparable, and decision-useful information for making their investment decisions."

Thompson's bill also includes several provisions relating to fertilizer, including reinstating the National Environmental Policy Act of 2020 streamlining mineral extraction for fertilizer production. 

"For fertilizer, specifically phosphate and potash, we need to streamline leasing and permitting processes," Thompson said, citing disruptions in supplies of fertilizer from the Russian war on Ukraine. "It's critically important to reduce our vulnerability."

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers a speech during the state dinner in Seoul, South Korea, Saturday, May 21, 2022. According to Bloomberg, the federal government is encouraging U.S. companies to buy Russian fertilizer amid Russia’s brutal war on Ukrai (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man, Pool / AP Newsroom)

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Thompson said the bill would require the secretary of Interior to consider phosphate and potash for the critical mineral list. 

This comes as the U.S. government is quietly urging American companies to buy more Russian fertilizer, according to Bloomberg. 

The bill also reinstates the Trump-era rule on waters of the United States. Republicans argue the Biden administration is expanding the definition of waters of the United States too broadly. 

It's not clear there's a path for Thompson's bill to pass, as Democrats control the House, Senate and White House. But it could provide a preview of what Republicans' agenda will be if they take control of Congress in the midterms, as they are widely expected to. 

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Democrats, meanwhile, are set to bring their own agriculture bill to the House floor for a vote this week. Called the "Lower Food and Fuel Cost Act." Thompson said it includes some good things but also includes a poison pill that would "lead to more consolidation in the meat processing industry." 

Thompson also attacked the fact the bill would include $700 million in new spending, saying, "It's really hard to spend our way our of inflation."

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