January 14, 2020 

Agricultural Marketing Service
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Stop 0201, Room 3071, South Building
Washington, D.C. 20250-0201

Sent via email: AMS.FOIA@usda.gov


Fee benefit requested
Fee waiver requested

Dear Sir/Madam:

Pursuant to the Federal Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552, I am requesting the names and background information on all individuals who applied for one of the five vacancies open on the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) and noticed in the Federal Register by USDA in 2019.

At this point, we are not asking for all documents related to an individual who has been nominated, or has nominated themselves, to serve on the NOSB. We will limit our request to their applications. If it would expedite the matter, for nominees that were not appointed, we would, initially, accept a summary document that included a listing of all their names and any related professional affiliations. This limitation would not apply to individuals that have now been appointed to the board.

Although it will be understandable if the Department redacts some personal information such as cell phone numbers, social security numbers, etc., we will not view withholding these documents in their entirety as legally complying with this request and will vigorously pursue administrative and judicial remedies if done so.

To be clear, we are not seeking any confidential information related to the application of any individual for the NOSB, simply their names and professional backgrounds/qualifications as provided to the Department in support of their application. 

As I am making this request as a policy researcher for a nonprofit, public interest research organization, please waive any applicable fees. Also, I would appreciate your communicating with me by telephone or e-mail, rather than by the United States Postal Service, if you have questions regarding this request.  

If my request is denied in whole or in part, I ask that you justify all redactions by reference to specific exemptions of the Act. We, of course, reserve the right to appeal your decision to withhold any information or to deny a waiver of fees.

I look forward to your reply within 20 business days, as the statute requires. Since our request is very concise in nature, likely not requiring extensive review of correspondence or other material, we expect that this can be complied with without the USDA requesting an extension.

Please send materials to the following address: 

701 E St., SE
Washington, DC 20003 

Thank you for your assistance.

Mark A. Kastel, Director