Big Brother Is Watching

Big Brother Is Watching

Big Brother Is Watching. I’m Greg Martin with today’s Line On Agriculture.

It seems Big Brother has been keeping an eye on CAFO or Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations all around the U.S. Nebraska Senator and former Ag Secretary Mike Johanns is not happy about it. Johanns said they are still waiting to hear from EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson in regards to a letter sent last week.

JOHANNS: The response of the EPA to date has really not been an acceptable response. They put out a statement as you know and they talked about well for a decade they’ve done these aerial over-flights to verify compliance with conservation laws in impaired watersheds. Well that raises a whole host of issues for me. Why are they just out there flying the feedlots? How they using the information? Why does the EPA feel they need to be so secretive about this?

It may still have gone unnoticed had it not been for some producers.

JOHANNS: I mean literally I would never have known about this. The entire Congressional delegation would have known but for the fact we stumbled on to it because producers were asking us about it and when I was first asked I didn’t have any idea that the EPA was doing this. So they have a long way to go in the transparency area. I also think that the privacy issues here are significant. They need to address those issues. They need to tell me why they weren’t transparent on this. Why they were sneaking around literally and running these flights.

As for Administrator Jackson, Johanns said she tolerates Congress and that's about all.

JOHANNS: She’ll come for a hearing and tolerate for an hour or two of being uncomfortable and then she just goes and does what she’s going to do. So I feel very, very strongly that I need to hear from the administrator on this...why they feel they can justify it? I need to know, are there similar surveillance efforts going on around the country? How many planes are up in the air at any given time? How are they using the information? I really believe that this is driven by Administrator Jackson and her group here in Washington.

This issue is not strictly a midwest issue. CAFO operations all across the northwest are experiencing the same problem. EPA defends its right to use aerial surveillance in areas that have high numbers of impaired watersheds and CAFO’s, justifying the surveillance in part by saying the aircraft used are not drones, but four-seat Cessna planes.

That’s today’s Line On Agriculture. I’m Greg Martin on the Ag Information Network. 

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