Opinion: It’s Elizabeth Warren vs South Coast dairy farmers, ranchers

Jul 30, 2022

To the editor:

Sen. Elizabeth Warren is seen as a leader in Washington who “stands up for the little guy.” I’ve seen her in Senate hearings. It’s mostly sincere. To keep her Democratic Party credentials intact (she was a Republican in the ‘90s), she has to fight climate change.

In sticking up for climate change, she is doing South Coast dairy farmers and ranchers a huge disservice. You want South Coast farm towns to thrive? Well, those days may be numbered.

On March 21, 2022, the Securities and Exchange Commission proposed a rule that would require publicly traded companies to document the greenhouse gas emissions in their supply chain. That means companies that buy dairy and animal proteins from local farms will have to inquire about the environment impacts of that farm. If it is not up to par, they can’t participate in the market. Lenders want to do the same thing.

This could happen with publicly traded banks that finance farms as well.

“You have too many cows and cows produce methane. Sorry, no loan for you,” says Mister Big Bank and Mister Meat Packer traded on the stock exchange. “It’s not our decision. It’s the SEC and we have to be in compliance.”

Senator Warren supports this proposal.

Although Warren’s argument is that she wants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and does not single out agriculture via the SEC’s so-called Scope 3 emissions assessment – which would absolutely impact every farmer in the state – none of that matters. Her support for the SEC’s proposal is a support for a rule that would radically change life on South Coast farms. I am not sure she realizes it. Local farmers should educate themselves on this rule and let her hear from them.

Readers may have heard about the farmer protests in Europe. It stems from similar policies taking shape right now in The Netherlands. The Dutch government is imposing reductions in fertilizer use and greenhouse gas emissions. Farmers are livid. They’re burning things to the ground in farm towns in that tiny, but powerful and influential European nation.

The Netherlands government, its banks, and its multinationals like Unilever, have joined forces with many food conglomerates, animal vaccine manufacturers, investment banks and asset managers who have created advocacy groups, or non-profits, geared towards making these policies take hold in the Western world. The Netherlands is the tip of the spear. Canada wants to impose similar rules.

And Elizabeth Warren has thrown her support behind it because – quite oddly – she must believe a bunch of global investment banks and corporations really just want to save the planet and keep some of their environmentally friendly investor clients happy.

If this rule passes, it will make traditional farming in the South Coast almost impossible financially. You will have to be a large industrial farmer with a global operation – or a serf raising animals for a multinational which, if they can’t buy it from you, will just buy it from Brazil where such rules will not apply.

South Coast farmers probably care about the environment as much as Senator Warren. But if you have a herd of cattle in your back yard, no matter how much you worry about climate change, the SEC – and by default, Senator Warren – says you will be considered a net negative to the cause. You’ll either have to shrink your herd or figure out a way to become compliant with these radical, investor driven environmental rules should they ever take hold.

Maybe a few can hide out in the private sector for a while. But in time, anyone tied to a publicly traded lender or buyer like Stop and Shop, owned by a Dutch company by the way, will be asked to comply.

Kenneth Rapoza,