USDA Sued After Removal of Animal Welfare Records

Several animal-rights groups file a lawsuit aiming to force the USDA to restore animal welfare records to their public website.

Harvard Animal Law & Policy Fellow Delcianna Winders—along with animal-rights organizations People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), Beagle Freedom Project, Born Free USA, and MSPCA-Angell—filed a lawsuit against the USDA over the removal of animal welfare records from their public website earlier this month. The lawsuit alleges that the USDA violated the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) which requires federal agencies to make all records released under FOIA electronically available to the public. The recently removed records documented animal facility inspections, animal censuses, and other information collected by the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS). The USDA is currently directing visitors to file FOIA requests in order to obtain information relating to animal welfare—but it takes 94 days for the agency to respond to a simple request, and up to 234 days for more complicated requests. All records relating to climate change, LGBTQ rights, and healthcare have also been removed from the White House website.

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