The Environmental Protection Agency acknowledged Tuesday that it released  personal information on potentially thousands of farmers and ranchers to  environmental groups, following concerns from congressional Republicans and  agriculture groups that the release could endanger their safety. 

According to a document obtained by, the EPA said “some of the  personal information that could have been protected … was released." Though the  EPA has already sent out the documents, the agency now says it has since  redacted sensitive details and asked the environmental groups to “return the  information.”

But Sen. John Thune, who originally complained about the release, slammed the  EPA for trying to retroactively recover the sensitive data. 

"It is inexcusable for the EPA to release the personal information of  American families and then call for it back, knowing full well that the  erroneously released information will never be fully returned," he said in a  statement to "While EPA acknowledging that it erred is a first  step, more must be done to protect the personal information of our farmers and  ranchers now and in the future. I will continue to demand answers from the EPA  on how this information was collected and why it is still being distributed to  extreme environmental groups to the detriment of our farm and ranch  families."

The information on livestock and produce farmers was sought through a Freedom  of Information Act request by the groups Earth Justice, the Natural Resources  Defense Council and the Pew Charitable Trust. The groups, which have not  commented on whether they plan to return the documents, were originally given  information on roughly 80,000 farmers and ranchers. 

The agency acknowledged the information included individual names, email  addresses, phone numbers and personal addresses