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Freedom of Information Act Division

Welcome!

The Office of Information Affairs (OIA) is the focal point for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) program.

Enacted in 1966, the FOIA provides that any person has a right to obtain access to agency records, except to the extent that such records, or portions of them, are protected from disclosure by one of nine exemptions or by one of the three law enforcement exclusions.

Are you interested in filing a FOIA request? If so, please click on the “Getting Started -- Information for USDA FOIA Requesters” tab below.

Getting Started -- Information for USDA FOIA Requesters

To see USDA’s requirements for making a request, please review §1.3 Requirements for Making a Request of our FOIA Regulations.

Some additional tips and reminders are below:

  1. Before submitting FOIA requests, we encourage you to review USDA’s website. USDA routinely posts records so you may find what you are looking for is already publicly available. For high interest and frequently requested items, please be sure to check out our electronic reading rooms.
  2. The FOIA does not require agencies to do research, answer written questions, or create agency records in order to respond to a request. Accordingly, please make sure your request is framed in a way to direct a search for specific agency records.
  3. While USDA remains in a maximum telework status to protect its employees and their communities, please consider scoping your requests to those items that can be retrieved electronically to facilitate more efficient processing.
  4. Please ensure any follow-up communication regarding your request includes the assigned internal tracking number. Doing so will help us to quickly retrieve the details of your requests.
  5. If you cannot determine which USDA FOIA component is responsible for the records you want, address your FOIA request to USDAFOIA@usda.gov.
FOIA Reading Rooms

Below are links to the individual USDA FOIA component electronic reading rooms.

USDA FOIA Points of Contact

USDA has a quasi-decentralized FOIA program. Many FOIA components are independently handling and processing its requests. Therefore, before submitting your request, you should try to determine whether it is likely that the component will have the records you are seeking. You can view the descriptions of each FOIA component by clicking on the respective component links below.

If after reviewing the descriptions, you are unsure about which FOIA component will have responsive records, submit your request to the Director for the Office of Information Affairs.

Office of Information Affairs (OIA)

The Office of Information Affairs processes records requests for all USDA staff offices except the Office of Inspector General. The Office of Information Affairs also processes records requests for the Research, Education and Economics and the Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs mission areas.

Office of the General Counsel (OGC)

Research, Education and Economics (REE)

Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS)

FOIA inquiries for the OIA should be directed to:
Alexis Graves, OIA Director
Email: USDAFOIA@usda.gov

Office of Inspector General

Office of Inspector General (OIG) investigates allegations of crime against the Department’s program and promotes the economy and efficiency of its operations.

FOIA inquiries for OIG should be directed to:
Alison Decker, FOIA Officer
Email: FOIASTAFF@oig.usda.gov

Farm Production and Conservation

Farm Production and Conservation (FPAC) is the Department’s focal point for the nation’s farmers and ranchers and other stewards of private agricultural lands and non-industrial private forest lands. FPAC agencies (National Resources Conservation Service, Farm Service Agency, and Risk Management Agency) implement programs designed to mitigate the significant risks of farming through crop insurance services, conservation programs and technical assistance, and commodity, lending, and disaster programs.

FOIA inquiries for FPAC should be directed to:
Patrick McLoughlin, FOIA Officer
Email: SM.FP.FOIA@usda.gov

Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services

Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services works to harness the Nation's agricultural abundance to end hunger and improve health in the United States. Its agencies administer federal domestic nutrition assistance programs and the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, which links scientific research to the nutrition needs of consumers through science-based dietary guidance, nutrition policy coordination, and nutrition education.

FOIA inquiries for FNS should be directed to:
Kevin Lynch, FOIA Officer
Email: FOIA-FNS@usda.gov

Food Safety

Food Safety ensures that the Nation's commercial supply of meat, poultry, and egg products is safe, wholesome, and properly labeled, and packaged. This mission area also plays a key role in the President's Council on Food Safety and has been instrumental in coordinating a national food safety strategic plan among various partner agencies including the Department of Health and Human Services and the Environmental Protection Agency.

FOIA inquiries for FSIS should be directed to:
Dexter Johnson, FOIA Officer
Email: FSIS.FOIA@usda.gov

Marketing and Regulatory Programs

Marketing and Regulatory Programs facilitates domestic and international marketing of U.S. agricultural products and ensures the health and care of animals and plants. MRP agencies are active participants in setting national and international standards.

FOIA inquiries for AMS should be directed to:
Mark R. Brook, FOIA Officer
Email: AMS.FOIA@usda.gov

FOIA inquiries for APHIS should be directed to:
Tonya Woods, FOIA/PA Officer
Email: FOIA.Officer@usda.gov

Natural Resources and Environment

Natural Resources and Environment ensures the health of the land through sustainable management. Its agency works to prevent damage to natural resources and the environment, restore the resource base, and promote good land management.

FOIA inquiries for FS should be directed to:
Margaret Scofield, FOIA Officer
Email: SM.FS.WOFOIA@USDA.GOV

Rural Development

Rural Development is committed to helping improve the economy and quality of life in all of rural America by providing financial programs to support essential public facilities and services as water and sewer systems, housing, health clinics, emergency service facilities and electric and telephone service. Rural Development promotes economic development by providing loans to businesses through banks and community-managed lending pools, while also assisting communities to participate in community empowerment programs.

FOIA inquiries for RBS, RUS and RHS should be directed to:
Lolita Barnes, FOIA/PA Officer
Email: RD.FOIA@usda.gov

Online FOIA Submissions Recommended

Please be advised that our FOIA components are continuing to process requests to the best of their ability during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, during USDA’s maximized telework operating status, FOIA professionals will not have daily access to delivered mail and facsimile transmissions. Therefore, USDA strongly encourages you to submit your requests online using one of the two options below. USDA also encourages you to consider scoping your requests to electronic files only as analysts likely have reduced access to offices where paper files are maintained.

Please note that the online submission sites do not currently provide the ability to submit a single FOIA request to multiple components. You can, however, easily submit the same request to multiple components or alternatively, you can submit one request to the General Counsel’s Office of Information Affairs (OIA) by selecting the Office of the General Counsel (OGC) component. Upon receipt, the OIA will then forward your request to the appropriate USDA component(s).

Submit Online via USDA’s Public Access Link (PAL)

You can access the USDA PAL web portal (USDA Public Access Link (PAL) that allows you to create, submit, and track the status of your FOIA request(s). You can also use PAL to download your responsive records. Prior to use, you must register and create a username and password.

Submit Online via FOIA.GOV (Department of Justice National FOIA Portal)

FOIA requests can also be submitted via the Department of Justice National FOIA Portal (FOIA.GOV). From the FOIA.GOV main screen, click “Create a Request” to get started. You can search for a specific USDA component, or search for “Department of Agriculture” to see a list of all USDA FOIA components.

USDA FOIA Reports

USDA Annual FOIA Reports

USDA Chief Freedom of Information Act Officer Report

FOIA Resources