FOIA MIAFebruary 3rd, 2003
(Washington, D.C.) The Animal Legal Defense Fund is calling on Department of Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman to give the public electronic access to USDA inspection reports. Amendments made to the Freedom of Information Act in 1996 require USDA to make the reports available electronically. Yet though the reports were once available on USDA's website, they were removed last spring without explanation. ALDF has sent Veneman a letter asking that she comply with federal law and direct her department to make the reports available online once again.
The reports in question give citizens a window on the care and treatment of animals in research labs inspected by USDA. Knowing that the reports are made public in a timely fashion would give research facilities added incentive to obey Animal Welfare Act guidelines.
"These reports need to be available pretty much as they come out," says Wendy Anderson, managing attorney of ALDF's Washington, D.C., litigation office. "If people have to submit written Freedom of Information Act requests, they'll probably have to wait years to see the reports. By then, the reports will be obsolete. So there's a very good reason electronic access is mandated by law."
To read ALDF's letter to Veneman, download it here. (PDF)