Press Releases

Simpson Protects Farmers from EPA Privacy Violations

Cosponsors legislation to prevent agency from releasing personal data on livestock producers

Washington, March 12, 2014

 Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson today cosponsored legislation to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from releasing personal data on livestock producers to the public.  The bill responds to an incident last year in which EPA released personal data, including names, telephone numbers, and email addresses, on a number of agricultural operations when responding to a request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).  H.R. 4157, the Farmer Identity Protection Act, would prohibit the EPA from releasing such data when complying with FOIA requests.

“There is absolutely no reason that the EPA should release farmers’ personal data to anyone,” said Simpson.  “This incident was a serious breach of the EPA’s responsibility to protect privacy.  What is more, allowing specific GPS coordinates and other information to get into the wrong hands could pose a serious threat to farmers and industry.  It is critical that we ensure that this breach of confidence can never happen again.”

Simpson included similar language in the House Interior and Environment Appropriations bill for FY2014 when he chaired the subcommittee.  Unfortunately, the United States Senate blocked inclusion of the language in the final bill.

H.R. 4157 is currently under committee consideration.  Similar legislation has been introduced in the United States Senate.