Congressman Rick Crawford (R-AR) is leading a group of 40 House members in writing a letter to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe  expressing concern this week over the agency releasing livestock producers’ private information to extreme environmental groups and asking the Acting Director to ensure the released information is not improperly used.
The letter states, “It is our understanding that EPA released a significant accumulation of personal and business information about livestock and poultry farmers across 30 states. Reports indicate that the data was submitted by state environmental quality agencies, and was not reviewed by EPA to determine if any of the information was confidential business information, protected by federal privacy laws, or subject to being withheld for national security concerns. The information included data from farms of all sizes, not just large (Confined Animal Feeding Operations) CAFOs. Additionally, an overwhelming majority of the information released appears to be derived from farms owned by families, who may now face threats to their homes and business. Uncontrolled access to this accumulation of personal and geospatial data may represent a serious threat not only to the safety of producers and their families, but also to the Nation’s food supply.”
Crawford says he has serious concerns over the EPA’s release of the information, particularly regarding individual privacy rights and possible biosecurity threats to the nation’s food supply. “Releasing this type of information makes producers potential targets of harassment, or even bio-terrorism,” Crawford says. “The EPA must be held accountable for their actions and bureaucrats in Washington must consider the livelihoods of farm families and our nation’s food-security before they cower to extreme environmental groups.”
In the letter,  Crawford and other House members, demand answers on why the EPA obtained producers’ private information and ask for clarification regarding what steps the agency will take to protect the affected producers, while ensuring these actions will never happen again.
The letter states, “We urge you to suspend any efforts to assemble a public, national database of detailed and person producer information, and instead refocus your efforts to ensure that the recent release of data is not misused in a way that threatens our Nation’s producers and the integrity of our Nation’s food supply that farm families make possible.”
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