Animal Welfare Records Blackout
Animal Legal Defense Fund v United States Department of Agriculture
In 2017, the Animal Legal Defense Fund sued the United States Department of Agriculture for removing tens of thousands of animal welfare records from the agency’s website. Referred to as the Animal Welfare Blackout.
Awaiting Decision on Appeal
In February 2017, the Animal Legal Defense Fund sued the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for removing tens of thousands of animal welfare records from the agency’s website. The removed records include enforcement actions taken by the USDA against chronic Animal Welfare Act (AWA) violators, and inspection reports of facilities regulated by the AWA. These documents revealed inhumane treatment of animals at thousands of research laboratories, roadside zoos and puppy mills across the country.
The lawsuit, filed in the Northern District of California on behalf of a coalition of animal protection organizations, challenges the USDA’s decision to remove the records as violations of both the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). The lawsuit contends that the USDA violated FOIA, which requires federal agencies to affirmatively disclose final orders and frequently requested records. It also argues that the USDA violated the APA, which prohibits agencies from taking actions that are “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law[.]”
The lawsuit was dismissed by the Northern District of California in August 2017. In September 2017, we filed an appeal of the dismissal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. That appeal is fully briefed and pending oral argument or opinion as of July 2018.
Animal Legal Defense Fund Appeals Dismissal of Lawsuit Against USDA Over Blackout of Animal Welfare Records
Animal Legal Defense Fund Appeals Dismissal of Lawsuit Against USDA Over Blackout of Animal Welfare RecordsThe Animal Legal Defense Fund appealed a court’s recent decision to dismiss its lawsuit against the USDA for removing tens of thousands of animal welfare records from the agency’s website.September 13, 2017 Press Release
Lawsuit argues removal of online animal welfare records violates the Freedom of Information Act and the Administrative Procedure Act.February 22, 2017 Press Release
Earlier this year, a court ordered the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to release previously redacted information relating to hen living conditions on several factory egg farms. Our request sought inspection reports of factory egg farms in Texas.May 8, 2019 News
Letter sent on April 30, 2019
Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
Dakota Rural Action v. United States Department of Agriculture