Editorial: Farm Bill undermines FOIA

From Rapid City Journal: House and Senate conferees are continuing to meet to resolve the differences between the House and Senate versions of the 2013 Farm Bill. We received a copy of a letter to the conferees from the National Freedom of Information Coalition, calling attention to a provision in the House bill that would undermine the Freedom of Information Act.

According to the letter, the House version requires the federal government to withhold information about agricultural and livestock operations, and a coalition of public information groups and others are urging the conference committee to strip out the language that affects the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

Language in the House bill is an apparent reaction to an incident earlier this year when the Environmental Protection Agency improperly disclosed private information about confined animal feeding operations to several environmental groups. The EPA asked that the information be returned, and the groups complied. However, the EPA did not tell the agricultural operators until after it became public that their personal information had been sent out — including names, addresses, geographic coordinates, permit numbers, numbers and types of animals, phone numbers, names and addresses of employees and, in some cases, lists of deceased family members.

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Also, please see out blog post Open government groups urge government to reject farm bill that could keep agriculture information secret for more background.