A federal judge has approved a settlement agreement between the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and the American Farm Bureau Federation and the EPA, limiting EPA’s release of information on livestock farmers.
Under the agreement, the agency only may provide under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request the city, county, zip code and Clean Water Act permit status of a concentrated animal feeding operation. The agreement also requires EPA to conduct training on FOIA, personal information and the federal Privacy Act.
The settlement stems from the February 2013 release by EPA’s Office of Water to several activist groups, which filed a FOIA request, of extensive private and personal information the agency collected on farmers in 29 states.
“We’re pleased with this agreement, which will protect the personal and private information, including cell phone numbers and health information, of America’s farmers and ranchers,” said NPPC President Ken Maschhoff, a pork producer from Carlyle, Ill. “EPA’s 2013 release to activist groups of sensitive materials on more than 100,000 farmers and ranchers was an outrageous abuse of its power and trust. This settlement helps ensure that won’t happen again.”