New York farmers and agribusinesses should understand their right to information under the the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) and New York Freedom of Information Law (“FOIL”). Last summer, I posted this blog which gave a step-by-step guide on how to make a FOIA request. For New York agriculture producers, I recommend reading this recent article of mine that describes more New York specifics to FOIL requests in addition to N.Y. Open Meetings Law (“OML”), and N.Y. Personal Privacy Protection Law (“PPPL”).
The New York Committee on Open Government also has some helpful information posted online as well. For example, it has posted a sample FOIL request letter and a great informational video on FOIL/OML that I recommend watching.
As I noted in my article, there are 4 main reasons why I think it is important for agriculture producers to understand their right to information.
1. Environmental activist groups are running FOIA requests on your farm – why shouldn’t you? It is a sound business practice to monitor the information that is available about you, your farm or your agribusiness to the public and correct misinformation.
2. Agriculture producers should have records of any government tests or activity on their property or livestock. Don’t let the government unlawfully withhold this information.
3. A FOIA request should be the first thing that an agriculture producer should do if it is ever in a dispute with a government agency.
4. The heart of FOIA hinges on government transparency and accountability. Farmers and ranchers need to exercise their right to agency records as concerned citizens in this democracy to help keep our government in check.