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Senior Advisor

Should The Government Hide Your Farm Location?

One provision of a draft farm bill would prohibit USDA or EPA from releasing location information under the Freedom Of Information Act.  Supports say that environmental activits, including animal rights activists, could use that information to target farms.  In many cases, owners and families reside on the farm.

 

The activists claim it would keep people form knowing about animal conrfinement activities on water sheds, for example.

 

What do you think?  Should the government tell anyone who asks where your dairy or hog facility is?

 

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/farm-bill-hide-farm-locations-public-20820358

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9 Replies
Honored Advisor

Re: Should The Government Hide Your Farm Location?

Well, since it was done over a decade ago here in NC, I would say that horse is out of the barn. EPA released similar info, not once, but twice, i would say illegally. They actually released the info, recalled it from FOIA recipients, and then released more. There was no statutory authority to collect the data to begin with.

I raised hell about this when it was first being done. Agriterrorism is a true threat. Yes, my family lives on this farm. This is a Castle Doctrine state. We will defend ourselves, if called upon to do so. No hesitation.

We cannot insure our properties from terrorism...read your policy exclusions. If the state or federal government gives out roadmaps, they ought to be liable for any harm done.

Too little too late.
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Veteran Advisor

Re: Should The Government Hide Your Farm Location?

I don't see how USDA/EPA/etc. thinks it is okay to make public any information that has not been clearly authorized by the operator, landowner, etc.  Just because part or all of the information is available elsewhere does not give them the right to make their information public.

 

I can see different sides of the equation.  USDA/EPA/etc. needs to somehow differentiate between a genuine need for the information, and fishing expeditions for potential "gotcha" and/or illegitimate purposes.  I'm sure that's easier said than done.

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Honored Advisor

Re: Should The Government Hide Your Farm Location?

The very first question I asked, at the very first Extension course on our new permits for hog farming in NC in 1996, was, " Are all these records we are being required to maintain public records or private ones?" I was assured they were private.

We have seen lawsuits over use of GPS trackers onto hog farms, decided for the farmer. Yet, you will catch a state agent for a different reason, in the case of the one I raised hell about, NAIS premises ID, sitting on your private property with a tracker, violating the law, using equipment your taxes helped fund, while they are also paying her salary.

I am telling you,this is a wicked, sticky web. pETA vans used to roll by our farm, on their puppy and kitten kill runs, several times a month. We do not need them handed a map to my family's door.
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Veteran Contributor

Re: Should The Government Hide Your Farm Location?

Regardless of what the government or USDA does, with the Internet, the information is still out there.  We can't unring the bell.

Making it available through the farm bill would just be spoon feeding it to all parties.

 

Example 1:  I can go to my Secretary of State website and do a corporate search for entities whose name includes Pork.  For my state I got 25 results; obviously there are more independent producers out there, but that is a start.  Click on the details link and it takes me to the principal office address and the registered agent address for each of those LLC's or C-corps.

 

Example 2:  I can go to our states "taxes online" website to see who owns property, the valuations, taxes, etc.  If I type in Pork under the name I get 6 results for our county.  Again it provides the legal mailing address of owner and the actual property location.   Do a google aerial search and I can quickly find the buildings.

 

Example 3:  Our state has a website called gisworkshop.com.  If I go to a specific county I can click on the link for planning and zoning and find the specific location of livestock facilities, wind towers, cemeteries, etc.   On some counties it lays out the size of the homes/buildings and basic footprint of the buildings.

 

Right or wrong, the information is out there. 

 

Years ago we were the target of someone who was disgruntled with us.  They strategically began vandalizing property in various areas so we recognize the harm that can come since the info is out there.  I just don't know how we're going to stop it.   The ability to find information and potential to cause harm is there in any industry. 

Honored Advisor

Re: Should The Government Hide Your Farm Location?

Precisely the problem.
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Senior Advisor

Re: Should The Government Hide Your Farm Location?

If you've got nothing to hide, what's the big deal?

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Honored Advisor

Re: Should The Government Hide Your Farm Location?

That is sort of like saying you don't need a shade on your bedroom window. Not that you are doing anything " wrong" there...just that your private business is your private business.
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Senior Contributor

Re: Should The Government Hide Your Farm Location?

Would the environmental activists let me have their membership lists with name and addresses, especially if they ask for my farms info on the FOIA? If they have nothing to hide, they should give it up willingly. I bet they would complain about privacy on that. As my dad always said "It depends on whose ox is getting gored."

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Veteran Advisor

Re: Should The Government Hide Your Farm Location?

When the equip  $$$ was doled out it was fine - untill the mont. wells that with showed 100 + nitrate - a whole different story ---

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