Legislation prevents EPA from releasing information

Published on: Jul 24, 2013

In continued action to protect livestock and poultry farmers from having their personal information released, Sens. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) and Joe Donnelly (D., Ind.) introduced legislation that gives the Environmental Protection Agency the statutory authority to protect the information.

The Farmer Identity Protection Act would unequivocally provide the agency with the ability to prevent such farm-specific releases from happening in the future, allowing the agency to provide information to outside parties only in aggregate without individually identifying information, or with the producer’s consent. 

The legislation does not prevent the EPA from collecting the information about where farmers’ operations are located. It also does not prevent EPA from disclosing information in the aggregate.

“This is just another in a pattern of egregious overreach by the federal bureaucracy,” Grassley said. “I heard from a lot of Iowans who were concerned with the EPA's actions, and I doubt they’ll stop now. But at least we can try and make sure this particular instance doesn’t happen again. The EPA already has a lot of relationship building to do in rural American, and its behavior here didn’t win the agency any favors.”

Donnelly added. “It is unacceptable that earlier this year, the EPA released the personal contact information of over 80,000 livestock and poultry owners from across the nation, including many from Indiana. This blatant violation of privacy must not happen again, which is why I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this common sense legislation.”

Several senators wrote the EPA on June 4 concerned about the EPA’s release of the personal information. The response from the agency outlined the rationale for the handling of the personal information, which was unsatisfactory for Grassley and Donnelly.

National Cattlemen's Beef Assn., past president J.D. Alexander welcomed the legislation. "In this instance EPA went too far, jeopardizing the health and safety of cattle producers and their families,” said Alexander. “As a producer whose information was blatantly given to the recognized enemies of the U.S. beef industry, it comes as a relief to have this legislation introduced. Congress is going to have to be the one to fix this problem created by the incestuous relationship between environmentalists and EPA."

Grassley and Donnelly filed a similar amendment to the farm bill, but it was not brought up by the Senate leadership for consideration.