Waco federal court ruling upholds ranchers’ privacy

The Texas Farm Bureau and other farm groups obtained a temporary restraining order in a Waco federal court Monday to stop the release, by the Texas Department of Agriculture, of information pertaining to the use of predator control devices. Federal Judge Walter Smith issued the order, which the Farm Bureau, the Texas Sheep and Goat Raisers Association and the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association sought on behalf of those groups’ members that might be affected by release of the information. Animal activist groups have sought the release of names of individuals who have used livestock protection collars and “M-44” devices. These devices are primarily used to protect sheep, goats and young calves from coyote predation. Last week, the Texas Attorney General’s office issued an opinion that stated the Texas Department of Agriculture had no authority to deny release of the names, requested by the Humane Society of the United States. Smith had previously ruled on a case that was very similar. The Animal Protection Institute requested the names from the U.S. Department of Agriculture last October. He granted a preliminary injunction against the release of names, which is still in effect. A hearing is scheduled for next year in that case. “What we have here is a full court press from extremists to obtain what is clearly private information,” said Donald Patman, president of the Texas Farm Bureau. “We have done and will continue to do all we can to protect the privacy of our members.” Attorneys for Texas Farm Bureau said Smith would conduct a hearing on Nov. 1 to hear arguments in the case.

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