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8th Circuit Rules for Argus Leader Against USDA in Retailer SNAP Payment Disclosures

(NPN) — The U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals today reversed a lower court decision and ruled that the USDA has to turn over records the Sioux Falls Argus Leader requested regarding how much retailers receive in food stamps (SNAP) from patrons.

The appeals court summarized:

“Looking to legislative history and accepting the department’s statutory interpretation, the district court found the spending information exempt from disclosure and granted thedepartment’s motion. Argus appeals. Concluding the statutory text plainly precludes the department from shielding the spending information under Exemption 3, we reverse.”

The court found that because the retailer spending information is not submitted by “an applicant retail food store or wholesale food concern,” the information is not exempt from disclosure. Furthermore, the court held, the department, not any retailer, generates the information, and the underlying data is “obtained” from third-party payment processors, not from individual retailers.

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