A Successful Fight for FOIA in the Farm Bill

Urgent action by the open government community yesterday helped keep FOIA-damaging amendments to the Farm Bill (S. 954) from reaching the floor. Senator Chuck Grassley’s nearly identical amendments 970, 1011, and 1097 would create a provision impeding the public’s right to know about the location of livestock operations, information that is important for public health and safety. The Freedom of Information Act’s Exemption 6 already protects the personal information of individuals from disclosure. As the letter notes, “creating industry-specific FOIA exemptions to protect individual interest groups is bad policy that undermines the transparency objectives of FOIA.” The amendments also go beyond protecting the privacy of individuals, however, and would broadly shield the information of corporate operations.

While the pressure from civil society kept the amendments from consideration yesterday, they may resurface when Congress returns from recess in June. Until then, individuals may urge their Senators to oppose the amendments with the Project on Government Oversight’s Action Alert.