Ag Producers' Privacy Top Priority for Farm Groups

EPA's release of producers' information unleashes continuing concern about further releases; Sen. Johanns calls for IG report

Published on: Jul 9, 2013

According to the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, the EPA admitted that too much information was disseminated during previous information releases. The group has requested an Inspector General report into the matter.

Sen. Johanns on the same page

During talks on the farm bill earlier this year, several lawmakers championed legislation that would bar the EPA from releasing producers' information in the future.

Among them, Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., has been front and center in calling for EPA reform, not just for information release, but for allegedly conducting business through unofficial electronic accounts and negotiating settlements for lawsuits behind closed doors.

Johanns outlined his concerns in a June 27 letter to the EPA Inspector General Arthur Elkins, Jr., in which he requested an official inspection of practices at the agency.

"This EPA has pursued an aggressive agenda that, to many Nebraskans, seems more focused on harming agriculture in America and driving up electricity bills than achieving reasonable environmental goals," Johanns said in a statement.

"The recent release of private information, use of secret email accounts with pseudo-names to conceal official business, and potential collaboration with outside groups to generate lawsuits fuel our legitimate concerns. The EPA IG needs to carefully and impartially review these practices to ensure this agency acts transparently and within its legal boundaries."

Despite ag groups' ongoing concern about the information, the groups requesting the records – the Pew Charitable Trusts, Natural Resources Defense Council and Earth Justice maintain that releasing producers' names and information will not facilitate criminal acts against facilities, as some ag groups fear.