The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) is appalled to learn that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to illegally release information on cattle operations to the activist groups Earth Justice, the Pew Charitable Trust and the Natural Resources Defense Council. In this latest action, the agency again admitted it had released too much information on livestock producers, specifically producers from Montana and Nebraska. This action happened less a month after the agency found it had released too much information on livestock producers in 10 states.
NCBA Past President J.D. Alexander, a cattle feeder from Pilger, Neb., and whose information was released to the activists groups in the initial EPA action, said it is clear “someone at EPA is either completely incompetent or intentionally violating federal law. Either way, this action shows EPA cannot be trusted with sensitive information and should not have the authority to procure or disseminate it. NCBA is calling for an investigation by the Office of Inspector General into this matter.”
The records released in February by EPA include names of producers and operations, locations and in some cases even personal phone numbers for farmers and ranchers who own beef, swine or poultry operations. Most of the 80,000 facilities listed are not regulated under the Clean Water Act (CWA), some having as few as 12 head of livestock. After NCBA and other livestock groups expressed outrage over the initial release of information, EPA conducted a review of the records and admitted it released too much personal information for 10 of the 29 states included in the documents. After a second review, the agency once again said too much information was released for operations located in Nebraska and Montana.
“These actions by EPA once again prove that the agency is incapable of properly doing its job. Nowhere in law is EPA required to obtain and display such personal information on all these livestock operations. On the contrary, the federal government should be protecting its citizens from unwarranted attacks,” Alexander said. “Instead, EPA has once again threatened the health and safety of America’s farmers and their families, as well as decreased the security of our food system. Now they have politely asked these activist groups twice to return those documents with extremely sensitive information on them. What makes EPA think that these groups will listen and act appropriately in order to protect hardworking farming and ranching families, those families that environmental activist groups want out of business?”