By Doug Schmitz
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) officially withdrew a recently proposed rule national agriculture leaders and lawmakers said would have allowed new natural asset companies to trade public and private land on the New York Stock Exchange.
Utah Attorney Gen. Sean Reyes joined a coalition of 25 state attorneys general, which included Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee in a Jan. 9 letter to the SEC, opposing the previously proposed move.
“This is a resounding win for our states and our constituents, as we protect access to multiple legal, productive and responsible uses of our lands and other natural resources,” Reyes said.
The coalition said the proposal was initially driven by environmental activist groups attempting to “circumvent Congress and subject the American people to a radical political agenda.”
According to U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), unlike conventional companies focused on services or tangible goods, the SEC defined a natural asset company as “a corporation whose primary purpose is to actively manage, maintain, restore, and grow the value of natural assets and their production of ecosystem services.”
But she said, “This new type of public company would allow foreign adversaries like China and Russia to control our national parks, federal lands, and private property.”
Jennifer Zwagerman, Drake University Agricultural Law Center director and associate professor of law in Des Moines, Iowa, told Farm World the SEC’s recently withdrawn proposal wouldn’t have required farmers to sell their land.
“The way I understand the initial proposal, now withdrawn, the Securities and Exchange Commission wasn’t going to be seizing any land, or reclassifying use of any land,” she said.
“What it was doing was recognizing a new type of company that would have the ability to purchase or own agricultural land, and in turn, would be required to manage or use that land in a way that reflects the values of the new type of company,” she added.
She also emphasized the natural asset companies’ ownership of land wouldn’t have prohibited farming.
“It would simply be a voluntary restriction on how the land would be farmed or used, much like the way an easement, (which grants limited rights to use another person’s property for a specific purpose), would preclude (or prevent) certain activities or ways of operation,” she said.
Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Jonathan Shell told Farm World, “The Biden Administration’s recent decision to abruptly reverse its initial proposal of opening public and private lands to be traded on the New York Stock Exchange is only an indication of how out of touch they are with the agricultural community to begin with.
“As a farmer myself, I know the impact agriculture has on our economy, families, and communities,” he added. “I am proud to stand up for our farming families across the state, and will continue to fight ridiculous policies like this.”