Thursday, March 30, 2017

EPA, farm groups reach deal to release more info on concentrated animal feeding operations

The Environmental Protection Agency reached a deal this week with two farm groups "to make public the city, county, ZIP code and permit status—but no more—of certain big livestock farms," Marc Heller reports for Greenwire. The deal reached with the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Pork Producers Council "averts the need for a court order, after the groups successfully sued the agency for releasing names, addresses and phone numbers connected to concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) in 29 states."

"EPA had released the information, which sometimes included names of family members as well as GPS coordinates for farms, in response to Freedom of Information Act requests from the Pew Charitable Trusts and two environmental groups, Earthjustice and the Natural Resources Defense Council," Heller writes. "The groups were looking to assess the agency's implementation of the Clean Water Act, which calls for permits for CAFOs."

"At the time, the NRDC said little information was known about CAFOs, despite the threats from animal waste that they can pose to waterways," Heller writes. The groups said "more disclosure would 'provide a greater understanding of what is known about industrial livestock facilities and help identify ways that safeguards against CAFO pollution can be improved to protect human health and the environment.'"

Farm groups cited invasion of privacy concerns for not wanting to release information, Heller writes. Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, said in a statement: "Farm families usually live on the farm and releasing this type of information was a clear violation of their personal privacy. The information could easily be used to encourage harassment or even violence against farmers and ranchers."

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