Thursday, January 15, 2009

Transparency in USDA

I've blogged on this before, but the Environmental Working Group has an article from the Salina Journal. The issue is the extent to which FSA/NRCS information is publicly available--the 2008 farm bill inserted a prohibition on releasing data:

From the end of the article:

"When we got wind this was going to be inserted without any debate, we heard from two camps in the FSA," Cook said. "One saying they didn't agree with it, and thought we ought to know -- while another side helped draft it."

The privacy provision was inserted in conference committee, after both the House and Senate had approved different versions of the bill. Conference committees generally work out compromises between those different versions, but can also insert new provisions, which Cook said is what happened in this case.

Although I don't always like EWG's stands, I'm in favor of transparency here. (Though, inconsistently, I don't like the idea of private entities making bucks by serving as middlemen with the government.)

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