USDA Report on USDA Cruelty Unsurprisingly Misses the Mark
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Office of Inspector General just released an interim report of its investigation into the animal abuse detailed in a disturbing, front-page New York Times story about the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (USMARC), which is run by the USDA. The abuse detailed in the story shocked taxpayers and Congress alike: newborn piglets crushed to death by their mothers; a heifer restrained and mounted by bulls until she died from her injuries; weakened and deformed calves born to cows “retooled” to bear twins and triplets instead of a normal, single birth; and newborn lambs left to freeze and starve to death in fields. All paid for with your tax dollars to boost the agriculture industry’s profits.
Seven months into its investigation, the USDA’s preliminary report is woefully inadequate and typifies the agency’s “business as usual” attitude. The report defends the lamb and piglet deaths identified in the Times article as standard agricultural practices “in line with industry norms.” More troubling, USDA has yet to contact the whistleblower or the author of the New York Times article. Without input from the two central figures responsible for exposing USMARC, the report cannot accurately examine the troubles at the facility. The USDA claims that both individuals will have an opportunity to contribute as the investigation continues, but after so many months it is challenging to take this claim seriously.
Meanwhile, Congress continues to demand more oversight of USMARC. As legislators on Capitol Hill craft a spending package to fund the government next year, the ASPCA is working to ensure that the package will include measures adopted by the House and Senate Appropriations Committees mandating USMARC’s compliance with the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and implement necessary reporting and inspection requirements. These measures complement the AWARE Act, bipartisan legislation that would close the loophole that exempts research at federal facilities like USMARC from the AWA.