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OMAFRA releasing names of farm businesses

The ministry will, however, withhold farm business registration numbers in response to a freedom of information request

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Updated Aug. 11

The provincial government will release the name of all registered farm businesses in response to a Freedom of Information request.

The ministry will not be releasing the actual farm business registration numbers.

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) said in a statement that “After consulting with a sample of farm businesses and carefully reviewing their feedback, the ministry has determined that specific exemptions apply to the farm business number. As such, the ministry has decided to withhold that part of the requested information, except where expressed consent was given to provide it to the requestor.”

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The identity of the requester remains secret, despite requests from farmers to reveal it.

OMAFRA had sent a message to hundreds of Ontario farmers asking them their opinion on the release of the information.

Farm organizations vociferously opposed the release of the information and are concerned about the release of farm names.

“As an organization, we are disappointed in the decision of OMAFRA to disclose the farm business names of FBR registrants in Ontario,” said Keith Currie, Ontario Federation of Agriculture president. “We are concerned about the safety and security of our farm businesses and the serious risk this poses to them.”

The OFA, Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario and National Farmers Union-Ontario released a joint statement about the release of names.

Ed Scharringa, president of CFFO said, “We believe that farm business names constitute personal information and should therefore be protected. We are concerned that OMAFRA’s decision to release this information could lead to harm for farmers, their families and their employees.”

“Only three per cent 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.”

The organizations say 15 farm businesses agreed to the release of both their name and registration number.

The Freedom of Information Act allows a person to appeal any interaction with the Freedom of Information Act to the Privacy Commissioner’s Office within 30 days here.

Updated Aug. 11 to reflect appeal process information.

About the author

Editor

John Greig

John Greig has spent his career in agriculture journalism and communications. He lives on a farm near Ailsa Craig, Ontario. Contact John at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @jgreig

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