WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) today announced she has cosponsored bipartisan legislation this week to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from disclosing the private information of farmers and ranchers. The Farmer Identity Protection Act (S.1343) was introduced by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) and is similar to an amendment to the farm bill that Fischer cosponsored but was not brought up for a vote by Senate leadership.
“Farmers and ranchers, many of whom live and raise their families on their operations, have every right to be outraged by the EPA’s actions that demonstrate a blatant disregard for their privacy and safety. One of the main concerns I hear from Nebraskans is the overreaching hand of federal bureaucracy in their daily lives. The EPA’s reckless behavior in releasing this confidential information is just one of the latest instances for the hundreds of private citizens, families, and business owners in our state who were affected. This legislation takes the necessary steps to ensure the release of their information that should be kept private does not happen again,” said Fischer.
Earlier this year, the EPA released the personal information of more than 80,000 livestock and poultry owners from across the nation to three activist groups in response to requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Much of the data, including names, home addresses, personal telephone numbers, and employee information, distributed to the activist groups did not meet the definition of a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO).
Fischer was one of the Republican members on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) who wrote a letter to then Acting EPA Administrator Bob Perciasepe on April 4, 2013, asking for answers regarding the EPA’s actions. Fischer also raised her concerns about this matter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy at a confirmation hearing before the EPW committee to consider her nomination.