Anti-ESG group launches campaign around farm bill

An advocacy group that opposes environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing launched a broad public relations effort to shape negotiations around a new farm bill.

Consumers’ Research, a leading anti-ESG group, wrote to top lawmakers on agricultural issues in a letter obtained first by The Hill and launched billboards and television ads warning against the risks of including certain policies in potential legislation.

“Simply put, Americans cannot afford to allow the same ESG regime currently infecting corporate boardrooms to gain purchase on family farms,” Will Hild, the organization’s director, wrote a letter to Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.), the chair and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, respectively, and Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.) and Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.), the chair and ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee, respectively.

“The interests of consumers and the health of American agriculture must be paramount as Congress determines how to revise the Farm Bill,” he added. “In crafting the bill, Congress must ensure that ESG and onerous climate initiatives are kept far away.”

Hild argued that meant rejecting mandates regarding fertilizers that promise to reduce crop yields, or directives incentivizing electrification that would impose costs on farmers. A 30-second TV ad echoing those claims will air in New York City and Washington, D.C.

In addition, mobile billboards will go up in Washington, D.C., New York City and Charlotte, N.C., singling out money managers such as BlackRock and warning that terms such as “carbon sequestration” and “emission reduction programs” are “ESG in disguise.”

ESG has in recent years emerged as a major point of contention and a rallying cry for conservatives, who view it as part of a broader “woke” agenda among Democrats that infringes on Americans’ rights to make their own decisions.

Supporters of ESG say following these principles allows people to make money, positively impact the world around them and avoid some financial risks caused by climate change.

House Republicans and Democrats in May released dueling visions for the farm bill, the massive $1.5 trillion omnibus that underpins the U.S. food system.

Both support big spending on rural broadband and the high-tech “precision agriculture” it enables, put an emphasis on boosting the trade of American products abroad and include funding for research at America’s land grant schools.

But Democrats have called for money allocated by the Inflation Reduction Act to be used to cut the climate impact of agriculture, while Republicans want to use the legislation, passed without Democratic support, to cover all conservation programs.

The last farm bill was enacted in 2018 and was set to expire in 2023 but was extended by one year. Congress’s budget for the total package is estimated at approximately $1.5 trillion, to be spent over four years.

Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to The Hill.