January 30, 2014
The Honorable Patrick Leahy
437 Russell Senate Building
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Chairman Leahy,
We, the undersigned organizations, write to thank you for your extraordinary efforts to preserve the public’s right to know about agricultural and livestock operations, and your continued commitment to protecting the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Thanks to your leadership, people who live near or share waterways with concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) in Vermont and across the United States will continue to have access to information that is critical for public health and safety.
Your dedication to the government transparency kept dangerous provisions that threatened the right to know from being included in the final version of the Farm Bill. As you well know, the House-proposed language would have undermined the FOIA’s balanced approach to releasing information that is in the public interest. The FOIA already includes strong protections for personal and private information. These protections rightly keep the personal information of individuals and small family operations from inappropriately being released. The House’s proposed language set a dangerous precedent of extending the FOIA’s privacy protections to corporations.
We thank you, again, for your continued commitment to the protection of the public’s right to know and for your leadership in removing these damaging provisions from the Farm Bill.
American Association of Law Libraries
Brechner Center for Freedom of Information
Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington
Defending Dissent Foundation
National Coalition Against Censorship
Northern California Association of Law Libraries
Project On Government Oversight
Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
Society of Professional Journalists
Tully Center for Free Speech at Syracuse University