Federal Judge Says USDA Can release Missouri Dog Breeding Info

This FOIA victory is bound to unveil some rich reporting data:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture can release the revenue and sales data of Missouri dog breeders and dealers to the Humane Society, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., ruled.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg held that the agency’s decision to release the data was not arbitrary or capricious.

A group of breeders and dealers had asked the judge to block the agency from releasing information that it claimed was exempt under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

The Humane Society of the United States had filed multiple FOIA requests in 2009, seeking reports that breeders and dealers file annually with the USDA. Those reports list their gross revenue and/or commissions from the past year’s dog sales, the number of dogs bought and sold that year and, for dealers, the difference between the sale price and purchase price of those dogs.

Missouri breeders and dealers claimed that the Humane Society sought the information “to destroy” their businesses.

They argued that data about their annual sales revenue and volume were protected by two FOIA exemptions: one for privileged or confidential “trade secrets and commercial or financial information” and another for files for which disclosure would “constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”

The USDA initially redacted the revenue and sales data before releasing the reports, but later backtracked, concluding that the forms were not protected by either exemption. It explained that much of the information included in the annual reports is publicly available, and that disclosure was unlikely to cause “substantial competitive harm.”

Full story here.

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