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Leahy, POGO, and Partners Stall Farm Bill Secrecy Amendment

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Earlier this week, Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Joe Donnelly (D-In.) proposed amendments to the Farm Bill (S. 954) that would shield from public disclosure even basic information about the location of livestock operations. News of these unnecessary secrecy amendments caused the Project On Government Oversight and partners to spring into action to join Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) in opposing the amendments.  

According to congressional staff, one of the Grassley-Donnelly amendments likely would have passed yesterday, but it was blocked because objections by Senator Leahy, POGO, and partners could not be overcome before the Senate recessed for the Memorial Day holiday. Angela Canterbury, Public Policy Director of POGO, said of the legislative roller coaster, “Thankfully, we were able to make our concerns heard and provide the pressure needed to support Senator Leahy’s efforts. Otherwise, the amendment might have sailed through.”

As POGO and other transparency advocates explained in a letter asking Senators to vote NO on the amendments, this legislation “would undermine the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by creating an unnecessary secrecy provision at odds with FOIA’s goal of transparency.”

Canterbury further explained the consequences of the amendments, saying, “These proposed amendments would put the private interests of corporate farms above the public's right to know. The law already protects the privacy of individuals. Big corporate farms should not have the same rights to privacy as people.”

But, there’s more to be done—we want to prevent these amendments from coming back to the floor when the Senate returns from recess. Voting on the Farm Bill will begin again on June 3, so write your Senators today!

Images by Flickr users Socially Responsible Agricultural Project and RestrictedData.

By: Christine Anderson
Public Policy Fellow, POGO

Christine Anderson At the time of publication Christine Anderson was a public policy fellow for the Project On Government Oversight.

Topics: Government Accountability

Related Content: Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), Information Access

Authors: Christine Anderson

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