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US outrage over farmer data leak

By Nicholas Robinson , 22-Feb-2013

Related topics: Industry & Markets, Environment, Livestock, Beef, Pork, Poultry, United States

Worry has been struck up amongst US pig, cattle and poultry farmers as a result of the actions carried out by an environment protection agency, the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) has said.

The NPPC said it was “extremely troubled” by an alleged US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s decision earlier this month to release livestock farmers’ personal information from to activist groups. The NPPC claimed that information about US hog farmers and other livestock and poultry farmers, as well as business-confidential data of their farms, had been released by the EPA.

The information, claimed the NPPC, revealed details about farms in 30 different states. In some instances, NPPC said, information such as farmers’ home addresses, phone numbers and email addresses was made available to the Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC), Earth Justice and the Pew Charitable Trusts. The information was given to the groups after they made requests under the Freedom of Information Act.

President of the NPPC RC Hunt said: “The release of data containing personal and confidential information is extremely troubling; we feel betrayed. We are very concerned for farmers and with the ability of those opposed to modern livestock and poultry farms to manipulate that data to advance their extremist agenda.”

The NPPC claimed the EPA had recently gathered information as part of research into concerns over concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO). However, the NPPC said the EPA was forced last year to drop reporting on CAFOs, but had continued to look at how CAFOs effected water quality. According to the NPPC, the EPA was collecting data from state water agencies without informing them about their intention to share it with outside groups – including on a “searchable” national database.

Hunt said the NPPC was reviewing the files released by the EPA, “to better understand the scope and content of the data”.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) also voiced concerns about the claims, and past president for the organisation JD Alexander said: “When we reviewed the information submitted by the states and released by EPA, we were alarmed at the detail of the information provided on hard-working family farmers and ranchers, family operations including my own.”

GlobalMeatNews.com approached the EPA for comment, but was unable to get one at time of publication.

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