|Sure, we need every detail
about your life, but
we don’t mind sharing it!
Remember when the EPA “accidentally” let slip private information regarding a bunch of farmers to some wacky animal rights organizations? You know, the kind that would engage in eco-terrorism if it wasn’t so gosh darn illegal (and probably don’t care if it is).
Last week American Farm Bureau Federation filed a suit against the EPA seeking an injunction. Essentially, the injunction would stop the EPA from sharing lots of information in compliance with some Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests they have received from environmental groups. AFBF, who has been joined by the Pork Producers Council, is requesting that the information be redacted. It stated:
Earlier this year the farming and ranching community was shocked that EPA released personal information about thousands of livestock and poultry farmers and ranchers in 29 states in response to FOIA requests from three environmental organizations. The massive data release contained tens of thousands of lines in spreadsheets often including home phone numbers, home emails, employee contact information, home addresses and in some cases personal notes about the families. EPA had required state regulatory agencies to provide the agency with this information, which it then publicly released in its entirety. EPA has taken the position with AFBF and others that it has no legal obligation under FOIA to keep most of the information private. Now, in response to new FOIA requests, EPA intends to release additional personal information from farmers in Minnesota, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oklahoma, and Washington.
Now, let’s be clear about something. Farmers generally have to hand over a ton of information to the government. After all, we have a bunch of regulations to comply with, especially if you are spraying or managing an animal operation. Unfortunately, the government likes to know about all the nitty gritty details (they can even tell when my dad removes a tree on our farm!).
So, what’s the big deal if the EPA hands over this information?
AFBF said it does not necessarily object to the collection of aggregated data of farm and ranch business information for government use, but in the wrong hands personal location information could disrupt farm activity and lead to farm equipment theft or even sabotage or criminal mischief, especially for those farms that store fertilizer and chemicals or have large numbers of animals on the farm.
According to AFBF, the majority of farmers and ranchers, as well as their families, don’t just work on the farm – they live there, too. By turning over farmers’ names and addresses for public consumption, EPA is inviting intrusion into the privacy of farmers and their families on a nationwide scale.
When the EPA hands over the information they’re handing over our home addresses. Gee, I don’t know, but I don’t think that I really want folks who hate my guts and want to destroy my way of life knowing where I rest my head at night, not to mention where little Timmy plays in the front yard. And if I don’t live there, I don’t think I want some crazy to know that my barn is at such and such address and is left unattended at night with a cache of fertilizers, pesticides, and the like.
They want us to hand over our personal information with specific detail or they’ll stop us from farming, but then they turn around and share it with whoever wants to know it, regardless if those people harbor ill will or want to hurt us.
Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net.