An amendment to the farm bill currently in the Senate’s hands would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from distributing the names of farmers and ranchers to activists groups against the agricultural industry.
The amendment was introduced by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) following the EPA’s decision in February to release private information to three activist groups: Earth Justice, the Pew Charitable Trust and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
The EPA answered a Freedom of Information Act request with the personal contact information, including email addresses and farm details of over 80,000 farmers and ranchers, which should have remained private.
A release from Grassley’s office shows the amendment would not prevent the EPA from collecting information about where farmers’ operations are located they need under the Clean Water Act, but does prevent the distribution of that information.
In a weekly NCBA audio report, NCBA Deputy Environmental Counsel Ashley McDonald says the amendment addresses the concern that the EPA doesn’t have the statutory authority to protect producers’ personal information.
The bipartisan amendment allows the EPA to distribute information if data is aggregated without any individual farmer’s personal information included. Individual information would only be released if a producer agrees to publicize his or her farm data.
According to the amendment, the information collected by the EPA would only be available at the country level or higher.
The NCBA encourages cattle producers to support the amendment by calling their senators and tell them to support the amendment to the farm bill.