Farm Bureau lawsuit protects farmers’ privacy

By Oregon Farm Bureau,

Good news on the legal and data privacy front: American Farm Bureau and the National Pork Producers Council have closed the final chapter of their lawsuit challenging the Environmen­tal Protection Agency’s release of farmers’ and ranchers’ personal infor­mation when the agency responds to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

Last month, a federal judge ap­proved a settlement that secures the private information of thousands of livestock and poultry farmers in 36 states, including Oregon.

Before the lawsuit, EPA had released spreadsheets of detailed, personal information about farm and ranch families, including phone numbers, email addresses, and GPS coordinates of homes in response to three FOIA requests in 2013. Those details will now be removed before the agency releases any information about ag operations in the future.

EPA had been poised to expand its release of personal information to six more states before the suit.

“Nobody has invested more effort into protecting farm and ranch family information than Farm Bureau,” said OFB President Barry Bushue.

“We’ve worked at the state and national levels to be sure that pro­ducers have a say in who gets their information and how it is used. This win is a big step forward in protect­ing our private personal information and a reminder that Farm Bureau is working for members at the local, state, and national level every day.”

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