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AFBF v. EPA

United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit; Case No. 15-1234

Case Summary: In July of 2013, AFBF joined with the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) in filing a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota in order to stop EPA from violating the privacy rights of farmers and ranchers by disclosing personal information in response to several pending Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. AFBF sought to swiftly enjoin EPA’s imminent release of personal information in response to the FOIA requests. More broadly, the lawsuit seeks to clarify the legal obligations of federal agencies to protect the privacy interests of citizens in response to FOIA requests. AFBF's goal is to make favorable law establishing that the privacy protections provided in FOIA’s “Exemption 6” extend to the name, personal home address, email and phone number of individual farm families.

On January 27, 2015, the district court dismissed AFBF’s lawsuit for lack of standing, finding that none of the farmer declarations provided by AFBF and co-plaintiff NPPC could demonstrate any injury from EPA’s distribution of their personal information. The court concluded that no federally permitted livestock or poultry farmer is injured by such disclosure because the Clean Water Act mandates disclosure of information concerning NPDES permit issuance. For unpermitted livestock and poultry farmers, the court concluded that so long as the farmer’s personal information can be found somewhere on the Internet, EPA’s distribution of the information does not result in any injury to the farmer. The court noted that a farmer with a public Facebook page used to promote the farm, or whose information could be found via search engine or any state regulatory website in any form, is not injured when the federal government compiles and distributes that same information.

AFBF and NPPC filed a notice of appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit on January 29, 2015. Meanwhile, the district court signed a revised protective order to ensure that EPA does not release farmers’ and ranchers’ personal information until the appeal is concluded.
Importance to
Agricultural
Community:
To ensure that EPA and other federal agencies do not disclose personal information about farmers, ranchers and their families in response to FOIA requests.
AFBF Role: Plaintiff
Select Filings: 2015.02.03 Court of Appeals Briefing Schedule.pdf2015.02.02 AFBF Memo in Support of Expedited Motion for Stay.pdf2015.02.02 AFBF Expedited Motion for Stay or Temporary Injunction Pending Appeal.pdf2015.01.27 District Court Decision.pdf2014.12.01 Intervenors Reply Brief.pdf2014.12.01 EPA Reply Brief.pdf2014.11.14 AFBF Reply in Support of Summary Judgment.pdf2014.10.15 EPA Opening Brief.pdf2014.10.15 Environmental Intervenors Opening Brief.pdf2014.08.15 AFBF Memorandum of Law in Support of Summary Judgment.pdf2014.01.10 Scheduling Order.pdf2013.07.10 Letter Withdrawing Motion for Temporary Restraining Order.pdf2013.07.05 AFBF Complaint.pdf2013.07.05 AFBF Motion for Temporary Restraining Order.pdf2013.07.05 AFBF Memorandum in Support of Temporary Restraining Order.pdf