Nebraska cattle group upset with EPA's disclosures
A recent disclosure of personal information of 80,000 livestock producers by the Environmental Protection Agency to activist groups strikes very close to home for Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska.
“It’s all about controlling your information and not allowing someone else to control you or your information,” said association president David Wright of Neligh, adding that believing in this philosophy goes back to ICON’s roots and pushed the organization, which works for the independent cattle producer, to fight the premise ID law created by the USDA back in 2006.
“This is precisely why ICON worked with Sen. Cap Dierks on making LB 632 the law, back in 2008,” said Wright. “LB 632 says that animal ID in Nebraska will be voluntary, if you don’t want your information and your premise information to be controlled by the state then that should be your choice.”
ICON was instrumental in drafting the bill and lobbying for the bill when it was introduced by Dierks in the legislature. The shocking news of the release of personal and private information of any U.S. individual in states across the U.S. does not come as a surprise to the ICON members. When the National Animal Identification System was announced to the Ag industry, ICON and its members immediately began brainstorming to find a way to stop the introduction of NAIS and premise ID in Nebraska.
“It was a great day for Nebraska’s independent Livestock Producers,” said ICON Director Chris Abbott of Gordon about the passage of LB632 into law. “ICON demonstrated when important issues like this come up, it has the network and the people in place to influence the outcome in a positive fashion. Being forced to participate in a program which guaranteed no privacy for ranchers and farmers in the future was unacceptable in the eyes of ICON members.”
ICON was supported by several ag-related groups including Women Involved in Farm Economics, Farm Bureau, Nebraska Veterinary Medicine Association and Nebraska Livestock Marketing Association when they were working to protect private individuals, farmers and ranchers. Opposition arose from the Nebraska Cattlemen and the Nebraska Pork Producers. Farmers Union was neutral at the time. Time has proven trust is a valuable commodity and the misuse of personal and private information by government organizations challenges the trust U.S. citizens place in their elected officials and government offices.
“Cattle producers for many years have identified cattle with brands as IDs; the information registered with the state for brands is minimal,” Wright said. “If anyone needs more information they must contact the owner of the brand. With identity theft on the rise we need to be cautious with our information. Putting all your information in a data base to which you no longer have control of is not a good idea, whether it is the state or a private group.”