Farm Bill Prevents Release of FSA GIS Data – Part 2


Farm Bill Update

As reported by the Sustainable Agriculture Coalition in their weekly update, June 6, 2008:

On Thursday, the Senate by a vote of 77-15 approved the farm bill once again, enabling Congress to send it back to the White House for its re-veto, setting in motion the second veto override vote, likely next week, in the House and Senate.  The bill is exactly the same but for the new bill number – H.R. 6124 replacing H.R. 2419.  The Senate had expected to re-pass the bill earlier in the week, but Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Jim DeMint (R-SC) put “holds” on the vote and threatened to bring up amendments.  By week’s end they settled for 50 minutes of floor time, prior to the re-vote, to catalogue their views of the bill’s failings.

As we have previously reported, all of the farm bill except for the trade title is already the law of the land, but congressional leaders decided the best way to make sure the entire bill becomes law is to do the entire process over again.



Impact on Access to Common Land Unit GIS Data

As posted on this blog on May 17, the CLU (common land unit) farm field boundary GIS data were available for download from the NRCS Geospatial Gateway ( However, the CLU data has since been removed from the website to conform to the recently passed 2008 Farm Bill.


The 2008 Farm Bill Sec 1619 prohibits disclosure of farm-related geospatial information. But, this section also contains provisions about authorized disclosure of this information to USDA cooperators. 


(a) GEOSPATIAL SYSTEMS.-The Secretary shall ensure that all the geospatial data of the agencies of the Department of Agriculture are portable and standardized.
(2) PROHIBITION.-Except as provided in paragraphs (3) and (4), the Secretary, any officer or employee of the Department of Agriculture, or any contractor or cooperator of the Department, shall not disclose-
(A) information provided by an agricultural producer or owner of agricultural land concerning the agricultural operation, farming or conservation practices, or the land itself, in order to participate in programs of the Department;
(B) geospatial information otherwise maintained by the Secretary about agricultural land or operations for which information described in subparagraph (A) is provided.


(A) LIMITED RELEASE OF INFORMATION.-If the Secretary determines that the information described in paragraph (2) will not be subsequently disclosed except in accordance with paragraph (4), the Secretary may release or disclose the information to a person or Federal, State, local, or tribal agency working in cooperation with the Secretary in any Department program-

(i) when providing technical or financial assistance with respect to the agricultural operation, agricultural land, or farming or conservation practices; or
(ii) when responding to a disease or pest threat to agricultural operations, if the Secretary determines that a threat to agricultural operations exists and the disclosure of information to a person or cooperating government entity is necessary to assist the Secretary in responding to the disease or pest threat as authorized
by law.

(4) EXCEPTIONS.-Nothing in this subsection affects-
(A) the disclosure of payment information (including payment information and the names and addresses of recipients of payments) under any Department program that is otherwise authorized by law;

(B) the disclosure of information described in paragraph (2) if the information has been transformed into a statistical or aggregate form without naming any-

(i) individual owner, operator, or producer; or

(ii) specific data gathering site; or

(C) the disclosure of information described in paragraph (2) pursuant to the consent of the agricultural producer or owner of agricultural land.

(5) CONDITION OF OTHER PROGRAMS.-The participation of the agricultural producer or owner of agricultural land in, or receipt of any benefit under, any program administered by the Secretary may not be conditioned on the consent of the agricultural producer or owner of agricultural land under paragraph (4)(C).

(6) WAIVER OF PRIVILEGE OR PROTECTION.-The disclosure of information under paragraph (2) shall not constitute a waiver of any applicable privilege or protection under Federal law, including trade secret protection.



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