Tuesday, November 21, 2017

American Farm Bureau Federation files brief objecting to EPA data disclosure decision

The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFMF) filed a legal brief on April 24, arguing that actions of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which revealed contact information of thousands of farms and ranches, should not have been upheld on appeal.

The brief, which was filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, in conjunction with the National Pork Producers Council, is in reference to a 2013 disclosure by the EPA of information including farm and ranch phone numbers, addresses and GPS coordinates. This was in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by three environmental groups, and the move has been heavily criticized by some farmers, ranchers and stakeholders, due to the fact that much of the information given out was on family operations, giving anyone access to those families’ home contact information.

“We wholeheartedly support government transparency, but we insist on protecting the privacy of farm and ranch families,” AFBF President Bob Stallman said.

In the brief, AFBF argues that farms and ranches are different from typical businesses, and that the EPA’s release of this data creates a threat to privacy. It also contests the legality of the court’s argument in upholding the data, which was partly due to the fact that some of the information was already made available online by state agencies.

“Personal information is ubiquitous on the Internet; if the mere appearance of information on a website destroyed any continuing privacy interest in that information, privacy would be dead," the brief said. "The Supreme Court’s FOIA precedents foreclose that conclusion."

Organizations in this story

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 1200 Pennsylvania Ave NW Washington, DC - 20460

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