One bill awaiting a decision by Governor Jay Nixon aims to keep information about farms submitted to the Departments of Agriculture or Natural Resources from becoming public record.
It was sponsored by Representative Jay Houghton (R-Martinsburg), who said if such information was considered public record, a farmer’s competitors could get their hands on it.
“Right now, if you apply for a permit through DNR, immediately your information is sunshineable,” said Houghton.
The bill had bipartisan support but some, including Democrat Tracy McCreery, still favor the public having access to information regarding government programs.
“I don’t think there’s anyone in this body that would want a business’ personal and proprietary information released, especially so that competitors could use that against them,” said McCreery. “I think the challenge and the butting of heads that some of us have in this body is wanting to protect public information, but then the public’s right to know, especially as it relates to environmental issues, health issues, water safety issues.”
The bill does allow limited sharing of farm data between government agencies, and the release of data in the cases of a disease or pest outbreak.
Governor Nixon could sign the measure into law, allow it to become law without his action, or veto it.