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All Ontario farm businesses with an FBR number may respond to freedom-of-information request

By: Lyndsey Smith

July 3, 2020

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Nearly 500 farmers and farm businesses were emailed a letter in late June informing them of a request through the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) for a list of business names and Farm Business Registration Numbers (FBRN).

Several farmers have publicly addressed concern over the release of this information and the potential consequences of it being released. Still, it was unclear if all farmers could respond to the freedom-of-information request, or if only those who received the letter were allowed.

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The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs has clarified that any Ontario producer who wishes to make comments regarding the release of their business information can send the Ministry an email at foiaccess.omafra@ontario.ca.

“The comments should be detailed, including whether they consider the information confidential, why, and whether they believe that harm could be reasonably expected from release of this information, and if yes, what harm. Ministry officials may consult with third parties depending on the nature of the request. Third parties that are consulted have the right to express their views about the potential release of information, which would be a consideration on whether the requested information is released,” a spokesperson for the ministry says in an email.

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The identity of the person who requested the information will not be released, OMAFRA says. Under FIPPA, government-held information can be requested and released without the requester giving a reason or ultimate purpose for the information.

Any farmers or farm businesses considering a response have until July 17, 2020, to do so. If you are unsure of the wording or what details to include, farmers are encouraged to contact their producer group or accredited farm organization (Ontario Federation of Agriculture, National Farmers Union-Ontario, or the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario).

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RELATED:
Freedom-of-information request filed to access a full list of Ontario farms