The Glengarry News

Farmers' information to be released

publisher Aug 11, 2020 - 3:05pm

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA), Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario (CFFO) and the National Farmers Union have been forced to reveal the names of all Farm Business Registrants in response to the freedom-of-information (FOI) request.
“As an organization, we are disappointed in the decision of OMAFRA (Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs) to disclose the farm business names of FBR registrants in Ontario,” said Keith Currie, OFA President. “We are concerned about the safety and security of our farm businesses and the serious risk this poses to them.”
OMAFRA has advised all three general farm organizations in the province that it intends to release the business names of FBR registrants but withhold the FBR number portion of the record. The names will be released to the person who submitted the FOI request under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
“Only 3% of farmers consulted by OMAFRA agreed to the release of their information,” said Don Ciparis, NFU-O President. “This is an unacceptably low consent rate on which to base an FOI decision.”
Although OMAFRA has chosen to withhold the FBR number information, they received expressed consent from 15 farm businesses to release both the farm business name and FBR number to the requester.
“Jointly, our farm organizations strongly oppose the release of this information as it has the potential to greatly impact the health, safety and security of our farm operations,” stated Mr. Currie.
That sentiment was echoed by a substantial number of Ontario farmers who voiced their input and concerns to OMAFRA’s Freedom of Information and Privacy Coordinator throughout the comment period. The overwhelming response from farmers was to oppose the requested disclosure of FBR information.
The process includes the right to appeal and all three general farm organizations expect to exercise that right. OFA, along with CFFO and NFU-O, intend to file their own formal appeal of the decision in an effort to protect the privacy and security of all Farm Business Registrants. These farm organizations will act on behalf of Ontario farm businesses in an attempt to prevent the exposure of this information.