The Environment Protection Agency violated the personal privacy rights of thousands of farmers and ranchers. That unanimous ruling came from the United States Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday. The ruling concerns the EPA’s decision in 2013 to release to three environmental groups a large number of spreadsheets containing personal information of farmers and ranchers that raise poultry and livestock in 29 states. The American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Pork Producers Council vs. the EPA case also involved producer information in seven states that hadn’t been released yet. The EPA said it was required to release the information under the Freedom of Information Act. The information released included the names of farmers, ranchers, sometimes other family members, home addresses, GPS coordinates, telephone numbers, and email addresses. “This was an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy by a federal agency in violation of the law,” said AFBF General Counsel Ellen Steen. “EPA has to recall all of the information from FOIA requestors, but the groups have had the information for three years and most feel the damage has already been done.”
From the National Association of Farm Broadcasting news service.