The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) provides access to all federal agency records, or portions of those records, except for those records that are protected from disclosure by nine exemptions and three exclusions (reasons for which an agency may withhold records from a requestor).

The nine exemptions cover (1) classified national defense and foreign relation information, (2) internal agency rules and practices, (3) information that is prohibited from disclosure by another law, (4) trade secrets and other confidential business information, (5) inter-agency or intra-agency communications that are protected by legal privileges, (6) information involving personal privacy, (7) certain information compiled for law enforcement purposes, (8) information relating to the supervision of financial institutions, and (9) geological information on wells. The three exclusions, which are rarely used, pertain to especially sensitive law enforcement and national security matters.

The Privacy Act

The Privacy Act, passed by Congress in 1974, establishes certain controls over what personal information is collected by the federal government and how it is used. It applies only to records about individuals maintained by agencies in the federal government. It applies only if the records are in a "system of records," which means they are retrieved by an individual's name, social security number, or some other personal identifier. The Act also permits an individual to gain access to most personal information maintained by Federal Agencies and to request amendments to his/her records.

Send FOIA and Privacy Act requests to:

USDA, Agricultural Marketing Service
Mark R. Brook 

FOIA Officer
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Room 2055-S, Stop 0201
Washington, DC 20250-0201
Tel. (202) 302-0650
E-Mail –

FOIA Public Liaison:

William D. Allen
FOIA Public Liaison
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Room 2047-S, Stop 0201
Washington, DC 20250-0201
Tel. (202) 631-6412
E-Mail –

Additional Resources