From AFBF President Zippy Duvall:
Farm Bureau and America’s livestock and poultry producers got some great news late last week. A federal appeals court agreed with us in a lawsuit filed against EPA over the agency’s release of farmers’ and ranchers’ personal information—details such as home address, GPS coordinates, telephone numbers and email addresses. About three years ago, EPA released the information about farmers and ranchers in 29 states. The release was in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by three activist groups. Farm Bureau and the National Pork Producers Council objected and sued, calling the release “an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”
Farmers certainly believe in being transparent about production methods and animal care. But most of them also live and raise their families on the farm. Just because they farm does not mean they give up the right of personal privacy that every American citizen has. They shouldn’t have to expose themselves and their families to potential harassment. The court agreed, writing in its unanimous decision, “EPA’s release of the complete set of data on a silver platter, so to speak, basically hands to the requesters a comprehensive database of their own, whatever their motives might be.” This is actually a win for all citizens, not just farmers, in the Internet age. EPA argued that if personal information can be found on the Internet, it is fair game. The court rejected that argument and found that the Internet has not done away with the basic right to privacy for our personal information. EPA now has to recall all of the information it released.
I am so proud of the role that Farm Bureau has played in this case and others. Our action demonstrates the value of Farm Bureau membership—the importance of supporting our work to preserve the rights of all farmers and ranchers and our freedom and ability continue to feed, fuel and clothe the world. When farmers need a voice, Farm Bureau speaks for them and makes sure they are heard.
Zippy Duvall, President