Information access denied on basis farming is business

Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corp. can continue to withhold certain information from a landowner, according to a new report issued by the province’s acting information and privacy commissioner.

Diane Aldridge said her findings are based on legal reasons and evidence presented after a complaint was brought forward three years ago.

The report notes that an applicant submitted an access to information request to SCIC in March 2011, asking for records about the number of cultivated and seeded acres claimed by a tenant.

The corporation withheld the records, citing sections of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIP) and the Protection of Privacy Act.

Aldridge found that one section of FOIP applied to the case and recommended that SCIC continue to withhold the information in question.

“We found it does not constitute personal information of anybody, but it did constitute business information,” she said.

The initial request was for information the operator on the applicant’s land had supplied from 2001-10.

In a letter received by the commissioner’s office last July 2013, the applicant stated: “The seeded acreage (name of tenant) had paid me for in some years was a lot less than the cultivated acreage, whereas the moisture condition did not warrant the difference. I am not interested to find out the insured dollar value or the payout value. I am just interested to find out the seeded acreage claimed so I can compare it to what I was paid for.”

The commissioner examined more than 100 pages of documents from SCIC containing information such as seeded acreage and eventually found that section 19(1)(b) of the act applied.

Under that section, she determined that the tenant in this case is a third party for the purposes of FOIP, that the third party supplied financial information to SCIC and that the information was supplied in confidence.

Aldridge said an important distinction in the case is that the information being withheld is business related rather than personal.

An Alberta privacy ruling in 2010 also said information about farming is business rather than personal.

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