Relates to providing notice upon requests for public information regarding certain farm operations.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the agriculture and markets law, in relation to requests for public information regarding certain farm operations
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF THE BILL: To require notification to the owners and/or operators of a farm operation when information about their farm operation has been requested via the Freedom of Information Law from a state agency or entity.
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS: This bill amends Agriculture and Markets Law to create a new Section 308-b that requires the owner or operator of a farm business as defined in Section 301 of Agriculture and Markets Law to be notified that their farm records or business information has been requested from a state agency/entity via FOIL upon submission of the FOIL request to the state agency/entity.
The state agency or entity of which the request has been made shall inform the farm owner or operator in writing that a request for records concerning their farm operation has been submitted, provide a description of records requested and provide the name and address of the person or entity requesting such records. The farm owner or operator is to be notified within five business days of submission of the records request via FOIL inquiry.
EXISTING STATUTE: Currently, state law (Article 6 Public Officers Law 89) dictates that a state agency/entity is required to notify a farm or any business that its records are being released under a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request when:
1) The records are actually requested via FOIL by a third party, AND
2) Upon initial submission of their business information to the state agency, the farm has indicated that they are requesting the state agency/entity consider their information confidential.
If these two conditions are met, the agency/entity will contact the farm and have them justify their position that their business information should be exempted from FOIL release because it is confidential and its release could put their business in a competitive disadvantage with their peers, consistent with the allowable statutory exceptions as defined in Public Officers Law (POL) § 87(2)(a-i). The state agency/entity must then determine whether the farm or business' request for exception is valid and either approve or reject the business' request for exemption from FOIL release.
If the agency agrees with the farm or business and denies release of the requested information under the FOIL, the requesting party may sue the agency for violating the FOIL. If the agency disagrees with the farm or business and releases the information, the farm Or business may sue the agency stating that it should fall under the allowable exceptions to FOIL release listed under POL § 87(2)(a-i).
JUSTIFICATION: This bill ensures that our family farms are alerted to the fact that their business information has been requested under the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) when the inquiry has been made.
This bill in no way hinders the release of FOIL-derived information. It merely ensures that farmers are made aware of a FOIL inquiry for their farm information when such a request is made.
Farmers are on the front:Lines against natural (i.e. weather, disease, invasive species) and manmade (i.e. bioterrorism, water contamination) threats to the local food network that provides affordable, quality, nutritious food to the State's residents. As skilled, specialized practitioners, farmers counteract these threats through adaptive farm management and daily use of Best Management Practices. These farms rely on the expertise and resources available from the agriculture, environmental and other state agencies to develop and execute various aspects of their management plans that are crucial to the health and safety of the farm, its natural resources and the consumers it ultimately serves through the local food it produces.
The farm community holds grave concerns that farmers will not utilize the valuable agricultural, environmental and other state programs available to them for fear of having their FOIL-derived business information enable sabotage or harm to the farm and environment on which the farmer's livelihood depends. With this bill, farmers and their families will have statutory assurance that they will be alerted if and when their farm information is requested by a third party and by whom. This statutory assurance of notification will encourage farmers to continue to enroll in the successful agricultural, environmental conservation and other programs that the State and farm community have mutually developed and invested in over the past twenty years for the benefit of our family farms, our natural resources and our consumers.
FISCAL IMPACT: Minimal.
EFFECTIVE DATE: Immediately.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 4904--A 2013-2014 Regular Sessions IN SENATE April 30, 2013 ___________Introduced by Sens. MAZIARZ, SAMPSON -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Agriculture -- recommitted to the Committee on Agriculture in accordance with Senate Rule 6, sec. 8 -- committee discharged, bill amended, ordered reprinted as amended and recommitted to said committee AN ACT to amend the agriculture and markets law, in relation to requests for public information regarding certain farm operations THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. The agriculture and markets law is amended by adding a new section 308-b to read as follows: S 308-B. NOTIFICATION OF FOIL REQUEST. NOTWITHSTANDING ANY OTHER PROVISION OF LAW, UPON THE REQUEST OF ANY PERSON OR ENTITY FOR ANY RECORDS OF A FARM OPERATION, AS DEFINED IN SECTION THREE HUNDRED ONE OF THIS ARTICLE, FROM AN AGENCY OR OTHER STATE ENTITY; THE AGENCY OR STATE ENTITY OF WHICH THE REQUEST HAS BEEN MADE SHALL INFORM THE OWNER AND/OR OPERATOR OF SUCH FARM OPERATION IN WRITING THAT A REQUEST FOR RECORDS CONCERNING THEIR FARM OPERATION HAS BEEN SUBMITTED, PROVIDE A DESCRIPTION OF RECORDS REQUESTED AND PROVIDE THE NAME AND ADDRESS OF THE PERSON OR ENTITY REQUESTING SUCH RECORDS. NOTIFICATION OF THE FARM OPER- ATION IS TO BE MADE BY THE AGENCY OR STATE ENTITY WITHIN FIVE BUSINESS DAYS OF SUBMISSION OF THE RECORDS REQUEST BY THE PERSON OR ENTITY SEEK- ING SUCH RECORDS. S 2. This act shall take effect immediately and the commissioner of agriculture and markets is hereby authorized to add, amend and/or repeal any rule or regulation necessary for the implementation of this act on its effective date.EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD10677-02-3