Congress and USDA are preparing to undermine the protections for USDA licensees' private information provided for within Freedom Of Information Act's (FOIA) Exemption 4 and a recent SCOTUS Ruling.
November 8, 2019
Dear Members and Supporters:
If you are a USDA licensee you have probably, at some point in recent years, received a letter from USDA notifying you of a Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) request for information about your animal enterprise.
Most of these FOIA requests inquiring information about USDA licensees are made by animal rights groups who have nothing but nefarious intentions of such private, confidential information and, if not properly blocked via proper correspondence, USDA licensees' private information will be handed over to the animal rights extremists by USDA.
The Cavalry Group has responded to hundreds of FOIA requests of our Members' private information through USDA in the last few years.
What's important to remember about FOIA, is that FOIA was originally intended to provide transparency of government, not to be used against American citizens.
Earlier this year, the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) ruled that FOIA Exemption 4 not only includes private and confidential information that is protected from disclosure, but that the information provided under the "expectation" that the Federal Government will keep it confidential and private protecting licensees' personal and business interests is also covered under the Freedom of Information Act.
Again, FOIA exists to provide transparency of government, not to disclose information to be used as a weapon against the citizens. This SCOTUS ruling further reinforces the expectation of privacy and protection from disclosure of private and confidential information of USDA licensees who are subject to the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and the Horse Protection Act (HPA) in which they are required to provide to USDA, as per their licensing. Read SCOTUS Ruling.
Two plans are currently underway to undermine this SCOTUS Ruling to remove protections of privacy to USDA licensees. We ask that you read the following carefully and please take action.
1. Take Action to Oppose Congressional Action
Underwway to Change FOIA Privacy Rule:
Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA), and her cohorts in the Senate, are attempting to add a last-minute Amendment to Senate FY 2020 combined “minibus” Appropriations Bill to deny USDA licensees privacy and safety from attacks from animal rights extremists that is currently provided by Federal Privacy Code. Similar action has taken place in the 2020 House Agriculture Appropriation bill that is currently under consideration within the Senate FY 2020 "minibus" Appropriations Bill.
We encourage you to make contact with Congress and urge them to protect the privacy, confidentiality and safety of USDA licensees, their families, and their animals by ensuring the protections guaranteed to every American by the Constitution further reinforced by the SCOTUS decision on FOIA Exemption 4 this June 2019.
Please click the tab below to send a message to the Senate Appropriations Committee to OPPOSE Diane Feinstein's Amendment to remove FOIA privacy protections!
2. Take Action to Oppose USDA's Pending Rule Modification
to Elminiate Privacy Protections to Licensees:
COMMENT DEADLINE: December 26, 2019
USDA announced last week on October 24, 2019, their proposed Rule Change to modify USDA's information and data collection and subsequent use of information related to licensees.
Under the guidse of "updating" and "revising" USDA's "current routine" this Rule Modification would elimininate protections to USDA licensees under FOIA's Exemption 4, allowing licensees personal and confidential information to potentially be exposed to the animal rights extremists for misuse via FOIA requests.
It would appear that animal rights ideologues remaining inside USDA/APHIS are hoping to push this rule-making through should the attempts for an Amendment on the FY 2020 "minibus" Appropriations Bill in Congress fails.
The Cavalry Group has been witness to the leaking of our members' unjudicated, private, and confidential information from USDA to be used against USDA licensees by animal rights groups.
Please click the tab below to OPPOSE USDA's Rule Modification to the Privacy Act Systems of Record; Animal Care Information System (ACIS).
So, the big question is: Do bureaucratic rules 'trump' the SCOTUS Ruling?
Both the legislative efforts in Congress and the USDA Rule Modification are inconsistent with the landmark SCOTUS decision in June 2019 regarding FOIA protections for USDA licensees.
The SCOTUS decision clarifies FOIA’s Exemption 4 which protects the information provided by USDA licensees under the expected assurance of privacy. Therefore, unadjudicated inspection reports, home addresses, travel schedules, animal inventory, and financial records, are all information that is clearly intended to remain confidential and that fact is now enshrined by the Supreme Court of the United States.
Notwithstanding, we expect every effort from the animal rights groups to try to get around this Ruling, but we want to assure our Members that our team at The Cavalry Group will be carefully monitoring USDA/APHIS’ compliance with this Ruling, and when necessary, we will take the steps to protect our Members' private information from being weaponized by the animal rights groups and by those who are "animal rights-friendly" within APHIS and Animal Care.
In the meantime, please take action to urge both Congress and USDA to OPPOSE modifications to privacy protections in FOIA.
Your friend in the fight,
The Cavalry Group