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April 17, 2017, 07:41:44 AM

Brown: ‘CFTC Bill Written for Wall Street Traders, Not American Farmers’

April 14, 2016 - 12:03 PM

WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) blasted legislation being considered in the Senate Agriculture Committee today which makes changes to the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). Brown, who sits on the Ag Committee and serves as Ranking Member of the Senate Banking Committee, said the bill was clearly written for Wall Street traders, not American farmers. Brown intends to vote against the legislation during today’s Ag Committee meeting.

"It’s clear that this bill is all about helping Wall Street traders, big energy companies and other big companies like Koch Industries, not farmers,” Brown said. “We’ve already seen Wall Street use community bankers as an excuse to roll back oversight on their risky behavior and now they are using farmers as cover.”

Among other concerns, Brown pointed to section 304 of the bill, which he referred to as the “Koch brothers loophole” because it interferes with CFTC’s ability to regulate derivatives traders dealing in multibillion dollar swaps. Right now, derivatives traders dealing in up to $8 billion in swaps are exempt from registering with the CFTC. CFTC is currently undergoing rules to ensure strong oversight of larger firms by dropping that threshold to $3 billion – still well above the level an average farmer or typical end-user would hit. But, the bill before the Ag Committee today would halt that process. Brown filed an amendment with the committee to strike this provision.

“I don’t think Ohio farmers are trading $8 billion worth of swaps. So who is? Big oil and Koch Industries,” Brown said. “Big companies with sophisticated trading operations have already proven the damage they can do to our economy without proper oversight.  We should not create loopholes that make it even easier for them to wreak havoc on our economy at the expense of middle-class Americans.”

Brown also cited section 306 of the bill, which would weaken rules designed to protect consumers from excessive speculation by expanding the definition of what’s known as “bona fide hedging.” Brown warned that allowing speculation to go unchecked can lead to Wall Street artificially driving up prices of gas and other commodities American consumers rely on. Brown filed an amendment with the committee to strike the expansion and replace it with a provision directing CFTC to complete rules to rein in excessive speculation within 90 days.

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