Transparency Watch

Court rules in favor of S.D. paper, allows access to food stamp data

A federal appeals court has ruled that Argus Leader Media can seek government data on how much businesses take in from the food stamp program, the Sioux Falls, S.D. paper reported.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Court Appeals for the Eighth Circuit reversed a district court ruling and determined that a federal statute that created the food stamp program does not prohibit the USDA from disclosing the revenues businesses earn from it.

Last year Jonathan Ellis, of the Argus Leader, wrote about the paper’s lawsuit:

"By the start of 2011, we had assembled a national database that showed the explosive increase in businesses signing up to participate in the program over a five-year period. As the number of people in the program expanded, businesses were signing up to capture some of the revenue from food stamps, which now costs $80 billion a year.

I wanted to know how much each of those businesses made over the years, but the department denied my freedom of information request. I appealed. And waited. And waited. As winter gave way to spring, and spring gave way to summer, we heard nothing on the status of the appeal. Our attorney, Jon Arneson, started badgering USDA for a response. When we didn’t get one, we went to court."

Read Ellis’ full account here.

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