Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development Written Public Summary of the Department's Freedom of Information Act Procedures and Guidelines

A. How to submit written requests.

FOIA requests to the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development may be sent by e-mail or regular mail to:

Email: MDA-info@michigan.gov

or

Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development
Attn. FOIA Coordinator
P.O. Box 30017
Lansing, MI 48909

Or, print off a form to use in submitting your request.

Requests should include a name, phone number, and mailing address.

B. How to understand the Department's written responses to FOIA requests.

The Department has several options when responding to written requests for public records. With five business days of receipt of the request, it can grant the FOIA request, deny the request, grant it in part and deny it in part, or take one 10 business day extension. After 10 business days pass, the Department has to respond with one of the other options.

The Department will notify you if some or all of the records you have requested are available on its website.

If the request is granted or granted in part and denied in part, the Department can also charge a fee to process the request. There is no fee for requests that do not require the Department to incur costs above the threshold set in its Procedures and Guidelines. Fees are calculated using its procedures and guidelines and you will receive a detailed itemization of the fee. The Department will require you to pay a good-faith deposit before it processes your request. After you pay the deposit, the Department will perform the work and send a notice of the final balance due. After the Department receives the final balance, it will produce records in its possession that fall within the scope of your request and that legally may be disclosed to the public.

If the request is denied, the Department will inform you of the basis for its denial in a written notice. Reasons the Department may deny a request include:
  1. You did not describe the records you have requested well enough and the Department cannot determine what you are asking for;
  2. The Department has determined that it does not have records that respond to your request in its possession; or
  3. The records you have requested are exempt from public disclosure.
If all or part of your request is denied, the Department will inform you of your right to appeal its denial to the head of the Department and/or to file a lawsuit against the Department in its written response.

C. Deposit requirements.

If the Department estimates a fee to process a FOIA request greater than $50.00, the Department will require a good-faith deposit from you before providing the public records.  The deposit shall not exceed 1/2 of the total estimated fee.  Any written notice containing a notice of a deposit shall also contain a best efforts estimate by the Department regarding the time frame after a deposit is received that it will take the Department to provide the public records.  The time frame estimate is not binding upon the Department, but the Department shall provide the estimate in good faith and strive to be reasonably accurate and to provide the public records in a manner based on this State's public policy under section 1 of the FOIA, MCL 15.231, and the nature of the request in the particular instance.  Once the deposit has been received, the records will be collected.  A notice with final amount owed will be sent to the requestor.  Once final payment has been received, the public records will be forwarded to the requestor.

D. Fee calculations.

The FOIA permits the Department to charge a fee to process FOIA requests using a form to give you a detailed itemization of the costs involved. The Department may charge for the following costs:

  1. the costs of labor for the search, location, and examination of public records;

  2. the costs of labor for the review of public records and separation and deletion of exempt from nonexempt material;

  3. the cost of nonpaper physical media;

  4. the cost of duplication and publication of public records;

  5. the costs of labor for the duplication or publication of public records;

  6. the actual cost of mailing public records. 

Labor costs will be charged in 15 minute increments, rounding down when there is a partial increment incurred.

E. Avenues for challenge and appeal.

If the Department charges a fee or denies all or part of a request, you may submit to the head of the Department a written appeal that specifically states the word “appeal” and identifies the basis for which the fee should be reduced or the disclosure determination should be reversed. Written appeals may be sent to the email address or mailing address listed above and will be forwarded to the Director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development or the person designated by the Director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development to respond to written appeals.