On June 10, the Senate passed its version of the Farm Bill without a dangerous provision that would have completely cut off public access to information about the location of livestock operations. As wrote about in our last Update, action by the open government community helped keep a series of amendments authored by Senators Grassley and Donnelly from being offered during the Committee's mark-up of the bill. The proposed amendments would have prevented the public from accessing information relating to owners and operators of livestock operations, regardless of the public interest at stake in disclosure, and — though described as an effort to "protect personal privacy" by its supporters — would have permitted even the information of law-breaking large corporate operations to be kept from public view in addition to the information of individuals and families.
Prior to the debate of the Farm Bill by the full Senate, we and several of our partners worked with Senator Cardin to develop an alternative amendment to the Grassley — Donnelly proposal that would have reaffirmed existing privacy protections and preserved the Freedom of Information Act's (FOIA) balanced approach to releasing information that is in the public interest. None of the amendments were included in the package of amendments that were voted on by the full Senate.