Big Brother is watching the farm and his name is EPA

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Big Brother is watching the farm and his name is EPA.

In this age of free-flowing information, when most anything can be found in cyberspace, it’s a little disconcerting that government knows the most intimate details of your family, finances and business. It’s downright alarming when they release that information to those who might do you harm.

Earlier this year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released personal information about thousands of livestock and poultry farmers and ranchers in 20 states in response to Freedom of Information Act requests from three environmental organizations. The massive data release included home phone numbers, home emails, employee contact information, home addresses, GPS coordinates and, in some cases, personal notes about the families, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF).

When agriculture groups protested, EPA redacted some of the information and asked the groups to return the original information. But the horse was out of the barn.

Now EPA intends to release more personal information on farmers in a number of states. AFBF and the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) say enough is enough.

They are seeking an immediate court order stopping EPA until a court can clarify EPA’s obligation to keep personal information about private citizens private.

EPA’s actions go far beyond collection of farm and ranch business data for government use. Personal information in the wrong hands can lead to disruptions in farm activity, farm equipment theft; even sabotage or criminal mischief. Remember, many of these farms store chemicals and fertilizers or have large numbers of animals on the farms. It’s a crazy world we live in today and those factors can make them targets.

EPA claims they have no legal obligation under the Freedom of Information Act to keep the information private. That is typical bureaucratic nonsense.

We agree with AFBF President Bob Stallman. Farm Bureau is not only standing up for farmers in this case, but is also standing up for all citizens who shouldn’t have their private information publicly disseminated by their government.

We hope that the court sees eye-to-eye with AFBF and NPPC and reins in this craziness. Farmers and ranchers not only work on the farm, they and their families live there, too. Dishing out their personal information for the world to see is an invasion of privacy, plain and simple.



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ABUTOM    
911 NEW YORK  |  July, 14, 2013 at 10:28 AM

WE COULD REDUCE THE SIZE OF GOVERNMENT BY 80% AND NEVER MISS IT. EPA HAS DESTROYED AMERICAN INDUSTRY. IT IS THE BIGGEST POLLUTER OF FREEDOM TO DATE. CLOSE IT AND THROW IN ALL AGENCIES USING THE SAME COMMUNIST TACTICS. DON'T FORGET TO INCLUDE THE IRS. WWW.SPIRITOFAMERICAPARTYRADIOSHOW.COM

Dan    
AZ  |  July, 14, 2013 at 01:44 PM

The Privacy Act is a joke. There is no privacy or protection of personal information from any subversive organization that requests it under the Freedom of Information Act.

wallyone    
VA  |  July, 20, 2013 at 08:54 AM

I wonder how much of the information is already available in the public records (local deed filings, tax records, assessments, phone books, farm payments, etc.) Perhaps the EPA data was never all that secret after all. Isn't the Freedom of Information Act basically a good thing? Like a lot of government, we only dislike the parts that negatively affect us. Zoning laws are another example, i.e., good if they protect us, bad if they protect developers.

grbobf    
Southeast Texas  |  July, 20, 2013 at 10:08 AM

This SURE seems like a BLATANT VIOLATION of the Privacy Act of 1974, AND, the EPA's own written POLICIES on its compiance with the Privacy Act of 1974. The AFBF SHOULD pursue court litigation against the EPA and any other violations of the Privacy Act of 1974 by any other Federal agency; plus, they, and their individual members should demand a Congressional investigation of this breach by the EPA. Sounds like something a POORLY supervised INTERN was "responsible" for releasing "private" information in an FOIA request - not unlike the NTSB intern who "confirmed" the offensive, "fake" names of the supposed pilots of the crash-landed Asiana flight 214. Those supervising the "intern" should ALSO be fired/dismissed. This is the type of ERROR which ONE individual can make but shouldn't be allowed to UNILATERALLY MAKE without ANY oversight/supervision!

Tim Morrison    
Gillette,WY  |  July, 22, 2013 at 11:14 AM

After reading the article I hve two ideas. First copy the FOIA's of the environmental groups, and then serve them upon the EPA. And the second, FOIA the EPA for all the takeoff, flight, and landing information, times and data for the aircraft used in the survelliance of the land and water.

maxine    
SD  |  July, 22, 2013 at 02:23 PM

Great comments! And to carry on where Mr. Morrison stopped, maybe FOIA should release the names, home addresses, and childrens names of all those asking for such information about our FAMILY farms (98+% of all farmers in the USA)! Then do the same for all the 'groups' attacking agriculture, and include their sources, and the amounts of their incomes. After all, the EWG has done that 'for' many farmers! Shouldn't government apply the same rules to Activists as farmers must live under????


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