The USDA says that people can file a request for the information, but heavy delays make the work of so many animal welfare groups and investigative journalists nearly impossible. "The lawsuit refutes the USDA's suggestion that it's sufficient for the agency to provide records in response to FOIA requests, a process that can take months or even years," a press release issued by PETA reads. "According to the USDA's most recent annual FOIA report, it can take as long as 836 days - i.e., more than two years - to process a 'simple' FOIA request and up to 157 days for an expedited one."
"The USDA data purge is an outrageous obstruction of the work that journalists, lawyers, animal advocates and private citizens do in the interest of protecting animal welfare," Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA, told The Dodo. "The inspection reports, lists of licensees, and data on Animal Welfare Act violations are the product of an enforcement system that is funded with taxpayer money, and therefore taxpayers have a right to access the information."