Monday, September 12, 2016

Appeals court sides with farm groups on CAFO info

EPA violated the Freedom of Information Act by releasing personal information, including phone numbers and email addresses, of the owners of concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), a federal appeals court ruled today. The unanimous decision by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis is a big victory for the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Pork Producers Council, which sued EPA three years ago after it released CAFO information to environmental groups. The court reversed the decision of U.S. District Judge Ann Montgomery in Minnesota, who found that AFBF and NPPC had not been able to demonstrate standing on behalf of their members.
Farm Bureau general counsel Ellen Steen said AFBF is reviewing the decision and its implications, but she called it "a clear and very significant win for farmers and ranchers. The decision is a vindication of the right of farm families to protect their personal information, such as their home address and GPS coordinates, their phone numbers and email addresses." The appeals court "recognized that EPA cannot legally gather farmers' and ranchers' personal information and serve it up on a silver platter to anyone who asks for it," Steen said. "We are thrilled that AFBF was able to stand up and defend the privacy of farmers and ranchers in this way." EPA contended that because the information is already publicly available, the plaintiffs “cannot show causation or redressability” - essential elements of legal standing...more

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