FOILs for Farms

Environmental Advocates Opposes this Bill

Explanation: 

This bill adds a new section to the Agriculture and Markets Law that would require the owner or operator of a farm to be notified when a FOIL request related to their activity has been submitted to an agency, the name and address of the person or entity that submitted the request, and what information was requested. This bill would discourage members of the public from requesting information that they have the right to review, which includes annual compliance reports, nutrient management plans, and other information that is determined to be non-privileged.

Permitted farms in New York State are required to implement nutrient management plans to prevent manure spreading on fields from entering waterbodies. These plans are important for both farmers and members of the public to make sure manure is applied at a safe rate, during appropriate weather conditions, in fields and is a safe distance away from waterbodies.

Unfortunately, New York has had numerous instances of water contamination due to improper land application of manure. During the spring of 2014, DEC investigated at least forty incidents of surface water or groundwater contamination resulting from the land application of manure and other wastes during winter months. In 2013, DEC confirmed in their Final Environmental Impact Statement on the Dairy Industry Rule Making Proposed Action, that “numerous private and public drinking water wells around the state have been impacted by nutrients [from CAFOs] that are not properly managed.”

Citizens that are looking to receive public information regarding farm practices to ensure farms in their community are in compliance with environmental laws and regulations should feel safe to do so, but the required disclosure of their personal information could threaten their safety. 

Summary: 

This bill adds a new section to the Agriculture and Markets Law, 308-b, that requires the owner or operator of a farm business to be notified when a FOIL request related to their farm records has been submitted and for the farm to be provided with the name and address of the person or entity that has submitted the FOIL request. 

Memo #: 

33