EPA Wins FOIA Suit Over Farmers’ Personal Info

A Minnesota federal judge on Tuesday tossed two farm groups’ attempts to block the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from releasing addresses and other information about large-scale animal farms under the Freedom of Information Act, ruling the information was already publicly available.

The American Farm Group Federation and the National Pork Producers Council sued the EPA in July 2013 after the agency released the names, addresses and GPS locations of farms that keep animals in close confinement in several states. Environmental groups, including Food & Water Watch, had requested the information, and the plaintiffs sought to prevent further disclosures.

U.S. District Judge Ann D. Montgomery found that Clean Water Act regulations for pollution discharges require farmers to disclose their location to state agencies and that the information must be made public under federal regulations. The plaintiffs argued that the EPA’s release information would be an invasion of their privacy and should have qualified for an FOIA exemption. Continue>>>