American Farm Bureau Federation appeals, secures stay in EPA privacy suit
Washington—A federal district court in Minnesota ordered EPA late Friday not to release farmers’ and ranchers’ personal information while AFBF and co-plaintiff National Pork Producers Council appeal the court’s decision dismissing their lawsuit. By dismissing the suit, the court ruled that farmers are not harmed when the government compiles and releases a storehouse of personal information, so long as individual bits of that information are somehow publicly accessible, such as through an Internet search or on a Facebook page.
“We are pleased that farmers’ and ranchers’ personal information will be protected while we appeal the court’s decision,” AFBF President Bob Stallman said. “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 (such as names, home addresses, telephone numbers and GPS locations) of tens of thousands of livestock and poultry farmers compiled by EPA and requested by environmental groups through Freedom of Information Act requests. AFBF and NPPC appealed the dismissal on January 29.