Environmentalist block Freedom of Information Act

By American Farm Bureau Federationfarm-bureua-usa

AFBF reacts to inflammatory attacks in privacy lawsuit. AFBF’s Tracy Grondine reports.

Grondine: The American Farm Bureau Federation recently responded to the inflammatory tactics of several environmental activist groups who have asked to intervene in AFBF’s Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency. These same groups have already sought privacy information of farmers and ranchers, which AFBF is trying to protect.
Quist: Many of the groups are requesting the information because they don’t believe that EPA is properly regulating agriculture, particularly livestock and poultry farms. They want to seek this information so they can sample water, harass farmers and build their case that EPA is not properly enforcing the Clean Water Act.
Grondine: American Farm Bureau attorney Danielle Quist said that while AFBF does not oppose the activist groups’ request to intervene in the case, it does object to the false accusations about poultry and livestock farmers. AFBF also objected to the groups’ efforts to detract the court’s attention from the important privacy questions presented in the case.
Quist: They have really put forth in their motion very inflammatory and exaggerated statements about how livestock and poultry farmers operate their farms. They are simply false statements and they have nothing to do with this lawsuit. This is not a lawsuit or a referendum about whether or not farmers and ranchers are following the Clean Water Act or whether EPA is properly enforcing it. This is a case about privacy.
Grondine: AFBF’s suit in federal court in Minnesota seeks to protect farmers’ and ranchers’ personal information from disclosure by EPA under the Freedom of Information Act. According to Quist, AFBF filed suit in July to stop EPA from publicly releasing personal information about thousands of individual farmers and ranchers and their families to the activist groups and others.
Quist: The government has been collecting a lot of information about its citizens and there is a basic right to privacy in your home and your personal information. But if you happen to operate a business out of your home, that shouldn’t diminish or eliminate your right to privacy. Many generations of farming and ranching families live on the same farm where their homes are located and where their animals may be located. We don’t believe that should take away the privacy rights of those families to their home addresses and phone numbers.

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