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Audit finds improvements needed at taxpayer-funded animal research facility

Abuse and neglect at U.S. Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center, Nebraska prompted probe

The Humane Society of the United States is urging greater transparency following the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of the Inspector General’s final report on the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center in Nebraska, where The New York Times exposed appalling animal abuse.

The OIG’s final audit acknowledged that the USDA Agricultural Research Service should improve its oversight of animal welfare, including regular inspections by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service for compliance with the Animal Welfare Act, and make its research more transparent to the public. Though ARS has stated its commitment to be a leader among research facilities for animal welfare, it refuted the recommendation of the OIG to increase transparency.

“The Humane Society of the United States supports USDA Agricultural Research Service’s efforts so far to improve animal welfare standards and scientific integrity at all of its animal research facilities," said Kathleen Conlee, vice president of animal research issues for The HSUS. “We urge the agency to do more to ensure that ARS is transparent by sharing its animal research and review process publicly on its website, is accountable to the public and fulfills its stated aim of representing the gold standard in animal welfare.”

During the 114th Congress, the House and Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittees included provisions pressing USDA to make needed reforms and providing funds to allow for inspections of ARS facilities. Also, a bipartisan group of Senators and Representatives introduced the Animal Welfare in Agricultural Research Endeavors Act to ensure that all animals at federal research facilities, including animals at the U.S. MARC facility, are protected by the Animal Welfare Act. The HSUS urges the incoming 115th Congress to enact this legislation.

 
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