Appeals court orders release of FSA farm data - Nothing remains private anymore

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SWMO

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Appeals court orders release of FSA farm data
Apr 29, 2008 10:28 AM

       

The Farm Service Agency began releasing sets of complex and statistically detailed databases from FSA files about farming operations throughout the United States on April 28.

The release was required by a Feb. 15 decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by a commercial vendor and includes FSA data for all operations owned and operated by individual agricultural producers and closely held family-owned business entities. These files can be used to reveal details of farming operations at a specific geographical location.

The plaintiff had appealed FSA’s denial of its July 2005 FOIA request for the farmers’ data. FSA denied the request based on FOIA statute exempting the release of information that “would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”

The U.S. district court initially upheld FSA’s denial of the request in August 2006, but in a 2 to 1 decision the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia reversed the lower court, finding that the farming operation data requested was not exempt from disclosure under FOIA.

Upon return of the case to the district court, the parties agreed to release the information on April 28, 2008, in compliance with the appellate court’s decision.

Records of compliance information to be released include all information in a producer’s Farm Compliance Record such as: planting date; reported acreage; official acreage measurements; insurance coverage; type of crop; whether or not the crop is irrigated; intended use of the crop; crop status, including double-crop program acreage, experimental, repeat crop acreage, prevented planting or failed crop.

Farm Field Common Land Unit information to be released includes digitized farm field boundaries, classified as farm and/or field boundaries, farm numbers, field numbers, tract numbers, acres, at specific geographic locations using spatial attributes and coordinates.


© 2008 Penton Media, Inc.


Doesn't look like I will be filling out their Agricultural Survey anymore.  Just one more invastion of privacy.  If I remember right, those survey's indicated that no individual information would ever be released.  And the information that they asked for was pretty detailed.  I was always just a little vague with them on the details anyway.
 

knabe

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is this the same document you are required to fill out by law?

i'm assuming the whole point of this is so that the government can run everything.  the US is essentially a corporation, yet we are going to elect one of three people who have no concept of running a company.  since it isn't financed like a company, ie you just print money, the public is too, yes, i'll use the word again, too stupid, too ignorant, to notice.  since votes are realized by earmarks, pork, subsidies, no one is exempt from government influence.  who in their right mind would refuse money from the government?

there is essentially no domain that the federal government must not be involved in.  debate and choice must be eliminated.  absence of discrminiation is a form of discrimination.  when america is gone, where will the world go for innovation?  who will stop growth?  what year will the petri dish fill up to a tipping point from which is required a population correction of some sort?  what's so amazing is that the right is constantly accused of being facist, yet it's the left who is most zealous about it, and with the most links in the past, ie eugenics, reanamed to social biology.

the only reason to collect data is to use it.  it will be used to manage you, by not you.

words like unwarranted are vague.  it's like saying i wouldn't vote for that today, but how about tomorrow?  this should be appealed all the way to the supreme court so that americans can see that there is no such word as unwarranted as a protection on privacy.  there is always warrant, especially for people who want to ruin non-organic enterprise.  there is no balance left anymore or any concept of it.
 

kanshow

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They already use the estimates given via weekly reports from the FSA office.  The markets move because of those guesstimates.    Typical scenario..  What percentage of the corn planting is done in your county?    FSA worker completing the report may or may not have been out in the county or even someone who knows agriculture...  they put in a random percentage and submit the report.  The next day the news is broadcasting that the state has 27.5% of the corn planting completed..      Oh yeah, I beleive those numbers. 

Now that they've released the data - I'm not sure how much will change as the actual data was already available to certain groups. 

My husband absolutely resents filling out the reports.  He waits til they call him for the info and then tells them they are just using the numbers to manipulate markets & prices. 
 

knabe

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these numbers are like smoothing a revenue curve so that the fed can manage your 401K account so you don't take your money out so that fund managers and CEO's can extract their lottery winnings from your hard earned, guarranteed to come just under inflation so you don't notice.  notice how companies always "beat" estimates?  estimates have lost their intended value which was to give advance warning of loss so early knowers couldn't take too much advantage.  now, they seem to be used to rationalize a stock price above the ability to generate future revenue.  i guess one doesn't have to buy stock, but with everyone invested in 401's, i'm a little leery.  perhaps this is the one of the reason's the government hates small business.  the reporting overhead would be so much more accurate if 90% of the farms could be consolidated.  same thing with regular business and reinforcement of the familiarity mentality, which is advertising.
 

Dusty

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A lot of this information was already available if you wanted to dig for it.  It's even getting easier now that some counties are putting all their land records online.  You can look up a parcel and see the deed, how the title is held, and who has liens on a parcel.

BTW, you wouldn't have to provide a lot of that information if you didn't receive a farm payment or buy federally subsidized crop insurance.  I'm just saying, there's a give and take there.
 

knabe

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Dusty said:
BTW, you wouldn't have to provide a lot of that information if you didn't receive a farm payment or buy federally subsidized crop insurance.  I'm just saying, there's a give and take there.

wow, is that really true?  so is this form different than the one even people like me have to fill out stating number of animals, acreage, pesticides used, acres etc?  i lost track.  supposedly, small acreage horse people not in the business of buying selling don't have to fill out the form either.  i'll ask my neigbor if she got an exemption.

it would of course behoove the government to collect information if they were going to give out benefits/services so they could predict demand.  a market survey.  since it's the government and not a company, it seems like it's always information that is retrievable by the FOIA, or a stray computer here and there.
 

Jill

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Dusty said:
A lot of this information was already available if you wanted to dig for it.  It's even getting easier now that some counties are putting all their land records online.  You can look up a parcel and see the deed, how the title is held, and who has liens on a parcel.

BTW, you wouldn't have to provide a lot of that information if you didn't receive a farm payment or buy federally subsidized crop insurance.  I'm just saying, there's a give and take there.

We found this out a couple of years ago when we refinanced our house, at the bank they give you all this privacy information stuff and then we started getting life insurance saying congratulations on you purchase with the purchase price listed, called the bank to find out what the deal was and found out that anytime there is a finance with a lien, it is public record, I didn't really understand why the privacy deal was so important if it is all public record anyway, in my opinion that kind of information should be between me and my banker, Joe Blow shouldn't have a right to any of it.
 

Dusty

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knabe said:
Dusty said:
BTW, you wouldn't have to provide a lot of that information if you didn't receive a farm payment or buy federally subsidized crop insurance.  I'm just saying, there's a give and take there.

wow, is that really true?  so is this form different than the one even people like me have to fill out stating number of animals, acreage, pesticides used, acres etc?  i lost track.  supposedly, small acreage horse people not in the business of buying selling don't have to fill out the form either.  i'll ask my neigbor if she got an exemption.

it would of course behoove the government to collect information if they were going to give out benefits/services so they could predict demand.  a market survey.  since it's the government and not a company, it seems like it's always information that is retrievable by the FOIA, or a stray computer here and there.

If you didn't participate in the farm program or buy federal crop insurance you would not have to certify acreage, provide them yield history, or what you intend to use the crop for.  If you're not in the farm program you don't have to meet conservation compliances, ie residue management.  If you're not in the government program you can basically do anything you want on your land as long as it is not illegal(growing pot).



Jill,
any time property real property changes hands there is a deed filed at the courthouse that usually read the parties, the price and the terms.  The price usually reads: "one dollar and other valuable consideration."  There is also a recording tax stamp affixed to that deed with the tax determined by the transaction price.  If you know the mutliplier for your county you can figure out the purchase price from the amount of transfer tax on the deed.

There is also a handy website http://www.sec.gov/edgar/searchedgar/webusers.htm to search certain company filings and find out a lot of information about their businesses and their financial shape.  These reports are usually pretty in depth and you have to dig, but they provide a lot more info than is usually found on company website and newsletters.  Some companies are not publicly traded, but are still public reporting companies and they also have reports on this website.
 

knabe

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any time you apply for credit, your name shows up on a list that people pay to see and troll.  they call around dinner time.  i make sure to always answer the phone and then set it down quietly.  i wish they would make an answering machine that would automatically maximize the time the caller had without me having to listen to them.  that along with junk mail might do more to save trees and global warming than eliminating grocery bags.  eliminating bags seems a lot easier to eliminate than junk mail.  i used to send them back for fun, but never got a decent reply to encourage me to continue that.
 

Dusty

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knabe said:
any time you apply for credit, your name shows up on a list that people pay to see and troll.  they call around dinner time.  i make sure to always answer the phone and then set it down quietly.  i wish they would make an answering machine that would automatically maximize the time the caller had without me having to listen to them.  that along with junk mail might do more to save trees and global warming than eliminating grocery bags.  eliminating bags seems a lot easier to eliminate than junk mail.  i used to send them back for fun, but never got a decent reply to encourage me to continue that.
I always thought it was fun to send those return envelopes back with trash out of my pickup(other junk mail, mcdonalds wrappers, etc.) i think i even sent an old corn ear tag to a credit card company once....
 

kanshow

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I just wish they'd go one step farther with this info and allow us to do all our certifying online and then allow the crop insurance people to take their certifications from that.    Think of the time and paperwork it would save.   

Does anyone remember all the big deal of several years ago when they released the FSA payment info on the farmers?  Every farmer's government payments were available online for all to see... 
 

knabe

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here's a link to one of my old rants with that website (down at the bottom of the page).  it's been around for years.  used it to verify a map which showed long island is one of the densest areas for recipients.  not real sure farmers are getting the lioins share of the payments.  not sure what the benefit is anymore with so many off farm recipients.

http://www.steerplanet.com/bb/the-big-show/i-am-hopping-mad/msg10336/#msg10336

would like to point out that no one is really getting rich here, including the guy that farms our ground.  it just seems a little odd and out of whack when abusers of the system, including those that register 40 farms in their workers's names takes so long to work throught the courts to cancel payments.


and just for grins, here's an excerpt

EWG finds that the top 1% of beneficiaries received 17% of the crop subsidy benefits between 2003 and 2005. Their average benefit was $377,484 per person for the 3 program years or over $125,000 apiece annually. As a point of reference, the average adjusted gross income within the ZIP codes of those same top recipients was $45,853 in 2004 (the latest year for with IRS provides data from tax returns by ZIP code).

The data also confirm that subsidies are highly concentrated geographically. Specifically, ONLY 19 congressional districts (of 435) accounted for half of federal crop subsidies paid between 2003 and 2005.

this last stat is slightly misleading as these areas would have to be larger,with represenation fixed at 435, as population decreases in rural areas.

found this in the comment section

A couple of years ago, my dad bought a twenty year old combine for about $4500 to harvest his own wheat. My brother operates and maintains it. Just this past week, my brother has been using vacation time from his job to harvest the wheat for the neighbors with smaller acreages. The custom men with the expensive machines can't spend time on the small fields. My dad said this was the toughest he can remember about how the neighbors with 100 acres or less couldn't find a combine crew to harvest thier fields before the weeds take take over(then the sheep should become the harvesting machine).
 

kanshow

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Kanshow, that information is still out there.  www.ewg.org/farm/.
  Thanks!  I thought it was but couldn't find  a link!

Is there a website anywhere that tells all the FSA Loans?   RD loans?   Welfare recips?   Those are some I'd like to see...   

At one time addresses, phone numbers, ss numbers were all 'private' information - which is as it should be..... but you could request to know the salary of any FSA employee?    The payment amounts per/farm were considered private but then the information per farmer is available.  Something is wrong with this...   
 

knabe

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what might be interesting to see is a cross match with crop payments and welfare. 

posting this information has done little to curb paymnents.  that might be changing.  i would like to see more requirements, ie on farm payments, less if secondary income etc. or none if income (this wiill be difficult to calculate) above a certain level, say, my salary.  obviously farm income is receipts not a salary, like mine and doesn't subtract expenses.
 

SWMO

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So the guys at the local Soil and Water Conservation Office told me the other day that they will now have to have a swipe ID card and a thumb print to log into their computer.  Of course they are working day by day at these offices because the great powers to be in Washington cannot agree on a FARM BILL and just keep passing extensions.  How many millions do you think that the US Government is spending on this? :mad:  And then someone can just file a law suit and get that information anyway.  Why go to all the trouble of securing the computers!!!!!  Wonder whose relative is in the business of selling the swipe card  and thumb print readers in Washington.

I really have no respect left for our Senators and our Representatives in Washington. Do they ever work a real honest to god 40 hour week.  How many years do you think it will take them to spend our country into poverty?
 

Dusty

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SWMO said:
How many years do you think it will take them to spend our country into poverty?

About 2 years ago.... We just don't know it yet....
 

knabe

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hillary has missed 30% of her votes since running for office
obama 40%
mccain 60%

how many of you can apply for a job 24/7 while being paid for another job, at your current job's expense?

why don't they just quit?

of course you could just request 2.5 billion in earmarks

the best place to invest is in government mandates.  that's where you will find capitalism.  democrats pass stuff, and the republicans make money off it.  what they could do with the computers is simply have log in sessions with only a monitor and keyboard.  no need for an actual computer.  just like the old days.  absolutely no need to be taking portables home to do "work".
 
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