USDA Finalizes Update to Departmental FOIA Regulations

The United States Department of Agriculture has finalized a rule revising the department’s regulations regarding Freedom of Information Act requests. The new rule addresses the procedures both for submitting a request to the agency and that the agency follows when responding to the request. Among other changes, the rule announces that the agency will keep language that guides components of the agency when records need to be disclosed in reading rooms, but will not expand the guidance. The rule also codifies the Supreme Court’s ruling in Argus Leader, defining what is meant by “confidential” information in the context of Exemption 4 of the Act. The change is effective as of the date of publication, October 21, 2019.