Missouri Department of Agriculture's Foot Dragging
One of the problems I've had in the past, trying to get more data for stories, is the Missouri Department of Agriculture's foot dragging when it comes to its records.
Recently, I posted a Sunshine Law request for inspection records for five breeders. That's just five. I can easily pull up the USDA inspection reports for any USDA licensed breeder, because the inspection reports are digitalized and accessible to the public via the internet.
However, the Department of Agriculture is charging me over $30.00 to pull up these inspection reports and get me a copy. For a handful of breeders.
I could make a trip to Jefferson City and look through the documents and make notes. If I want copies, there's a charge, per page, for copies. Unfortunately, I just don't trust my car at this time to make this trip. And frankly, in today's digital and internet environment, this approach is absurd.
Contrary to what some people think, I don't work for the Humane Society of the US and don't have a lot of spare change. This cuts into bill paying and buying food money. Additionally, inefficient systems result in excessive charges for meeting these Sunshine requests, as well as less access to the pertinent information—both of which hamper openness.
More importantly, how many bad breeders are falling through the cracks in the system because of antiquated paper records that are seemingly difficult to find?