House members introduce ag privacy law

By Agri-Pulse staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, March 6, 2014 - Reps. Rick Crawford, R-Ark., Lee Terry, R-Neb., Mike McIntyre, D-N.C., and Jim Costa, D-Calif., today introduced legislation to prohibit EPA from disclosing the private information of livestock and poultry producers.

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The Farmer Identity Protection Act (H.R. 4157) comes a year after EPA released producers' names and other personal information to three environmental groups. The release, which EPA granted after a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, divulged the names, addresses, geographic coordinates and sometimes telephone numbers and e-mail addresses of over 80,000 producers in 29 states. EPA says it lacks the authority to prevent similar releases in the future.

But today's legislation would “unequivocally” provide EPA with the ability to protect farmers' personal information in the future, according to the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA), which supports the law.

“There is no justification for the blatant disregard of our privacy,” said NCBA President Bob McCan. “To turn this type of information over to anyone who has a computer is not just reckless, but it poses serious agro-terrorism threats.”

Sens. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., introduced similar legislation in the Senate in July. It has since been referred to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

Though a similar privacy provision was included in the House-passed version of the 2014 Farm Bill, no such measure was included in the final law.

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