07/25/13 Senators Joe Donnelly (D-IN) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) Wednesday introduced the Farmer Identity Protection Act, legislation that would protect farmers and ranchers by prohibiting the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from disclosing their private and confidential information to the public.
Earlier this year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the personal and private information of many livestock and poultry owners from across the nation, including Hoosier farmers. Sensitive information including names, phone numbers, and email addresses of the farmers and ranchers, their spouses, and employees on these farms or ranches was made available to the public.
Donnelly said, “I am proud to join Senator Grassley in introducing legislation that would protect livestock and poultry farmers from having their personal information released by the EPA. It is unacceptable that earlier this year, the EPA released the personal contact information of over 80,000 livestock and poultry owners from across the nation, including many from Indiana. This blatant violation of privacy must not happen again, which is why I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this common sense legislation.”
Grassley said, “Transparency is good for accountability, but putting the personal information of tens of thousands of farmers in the hands of environmental activists makes no sense. It’s par for the course at the EPA, and by the looks of the agency’s response, they aren’t going to end this reckless behavior. It’s time for Congress to step in and fix the problem.”
While the EPA has attempted to correct the error, this bill would provide clear protections moving forward for farmers and ranchers across the country. It would limit the EPA to disclosing information about farming operations only when all personally identifiable information is removed to prevent the identification of farmers and ranchers and their families and employees.
Senators Donnelly and Grassley offered similar legislative language as an amendment during floor debate on the farm bill; however, the Senate did not vote on the amendment.