Bernadette Juarez, Deputy Administrator, USDA/APHIS/AC
I must insist that you immediately restore public access to the ACIS system which made USDA/APHIS/AC inspection reports, animal use reports, etc. available to U.S. taxpayers. You must also restore access to all USDA/APHIS/AC enforcement action data as well. The people of the United States have a right to know which USDA-regulated research facilities, animal dealers/breeders/exhibitors/transporters are violating the law. Any personal information contained in these documents can easily be removed. Additionally, the USDA statement says that "If the same records are frequently requested via the Freedom of Information Act process, APHIS may post the appropriately redacted versions to its website." I hereby officially request access to all of these documents, the absence of which serves only to protect lawbreakers from public scrutiny.
USDA removes animal welfare reports
By Brian Hamrick, WLWT.com, February 10, 2017
CINCINNATI — Some animal-lovers are sounding the alarm after the United
States Department of Agriculture abruptly pulled public reports on animal
welfare from its website.
It hits close to home at the Cincinnati Zoo.
It’s a move in the wrong direction, according to animal welfare advocates reacting to an effort by the USDA to remove certain public records from its website.
“They’re actually going backwards in terms of governmental transparency,” said Michael Budkie, who is co-founder of Stop Animal Exploitation Now in Milford. “This is a huge step backwards.”
Certain documents are now only available by requesting them through the federal Freedom of Information Act.
The USDA clarified some of the records that once were available online but are not available now and said the list includes “inspection reports, regulatory correspondence, research facility annual reports, and enforcement records that have not received final adjudication.”
“This information was vital to finding out which agencies were breaking the law, if the USDA was enforcing the Animal Welfare Act," Budkie said.
Even though the information is available through FOIA, animal welfare activists, watchdog groups and journalists are concerned about how long it might take to get the information.
“We have a request from October that still has not been filled. Before they had online access, it took years,” Budkie said.
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