Friday, February 10, 2017

USDA says decision to remove animal-welfare information offline not final

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which last week announced it was removing Animal Welfare Act and Horse Protection Act inspection reports from its website, said in a statement this week that the move is not final and that “adjustments may be made regarding information appropriate for release and posting," Mary Clare Jalonick reports for The Associated Press.

USDA’s Tanya Espinosa "said a review of the website has been ongoing and the agency decided to 'make adjustments to the posting of regulatory records' in 2016, before President Donald Trump took office," Jalonick writes. No adjustments were made under Tom Vilsack, agriculture secretary under President Obama. On Sunday Matthew Herrick, former spokesman for Vilsack, "said on Twitter that the decision to remove the reports was 'not required.'" He posted, “Same option given 2 past admin. We refused. #transparency."

Jalonick writes, "USDA says the documents will still be available through Freedom of Information Act requests, which can be costly for the general public and sometimes take months or years to obtain."

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