Risk of public disclosure in environmental farm plan programs: Characteristics and mitigating legal and policy strategies [Book Review]

Abstract
Although various studies have shown thatfarmers believe there is the need for a producer-ledinitiative to address the environmental problems fromagriculture, farmers in several Canadian provinceshave been reluctant to widely participate inEnvironmental Farm Plan (EFP) programs. Few studieshave examined the key issues associated with adoptingEFP programs based on farmers', as opposed to policymakers', perspectives on why producers are reluctantto participate in the program. A study adapting VanRaaij's (1981) conceptual model of the decision-makingenvironment of the firm, and prospect theory on valuefunctions associated with the gains and losses fromrisky choices can be used to characterize how farmersperceive potential risks in environmental farmplanning. This framework can be used to assert thatfarmers are concerned about risks of public disclosureof potentially incriminating environmental informationfrom farms because the EFP program requirements foridentification and extensive documentation of farminformation is perceived by farmers as facilitatingthe accessibility of environmental information to thepublic, and public investigative efforts. Although theEFP program does not explicitly generate informationabout the environmental conditions of a farm nor thedisclosure of such information to the public, itcreates the possibility of generating and divulgingpotentially incriminating information that the farmermay want to treat as confidential. Yet, alone, theserisks of public disclosure concerns should not preventfarmers from participating in the EFP. Awareness ofand participation in environmental farm planning canbe increased if farmers and policy makers understandwhat the risks are, and how they arise. Aspects of theEFP process that have the potential to generate riskof public disclosure concerns relate to farm reviews,documentation and record keeping, and correctiveaction plans. There are legal and policy instrumentsthat can offer various forms of protection and helpminimize such risks, and these need to be assessed.
Keywords public disclosure  voluntary agricultural programs  environmental risk management
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