WASHINGTON, Feb. 9, 2015 – A federal district court in Minnesota has ordered the Environmental Protection Agency not to release farmers’ and ranchers’ personal information while the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) appeal the court’s dismissal of their lawsuit seeking to stop the practice. The court issued its order late Friday.
In dismissing the suit, the court ruled that farmers are not harmed when the government compiles and discloses personal information -- including names, home addresses, telephone numbers and GPS locations -- so long as individual bits of that information are somehow publicly accessible, such as through an Internet search or on a Facebook page. AFBF and NPPC appealed the dismissal on Jan. 29.
“We are pleased that farmers’ and ranchers’ personal information will be protected while we appeal the court’s decision,” AFBF President Bob Stallman said in a news release. “We disagree that the Internet Age has diminished the individual’s right to protect personal information. Now, more than ever, citizens need their government to help protect their information—not gather it, tie a bow on it, and send it out to anyone who asks.”
The suit concerns personal information of tens of thousands of livestock and poultry farmers compiled by EPA and requested by environmental groups through Freedom of Information Act requests.
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