In the wake of an exposé of gruesome taxpayer-funded experiments on farm animals, a key congressional committee has called for animal care standards in federal agricultural research at federal facilities.

The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society Legislative Fund applaud inclusion of animal welfare provisions in the House Agriculture Appropriations bill that was passed out of the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA and Related Agencies today.

The legislation prevents the Agricultural Research Service of USDA from receiving 5 percent of its appropriations ($56 million in federal funding) until ARS certifies in writing to both the House and the Senate that updates to its animal care policies have been implemented. The legislation also requires that each ARS facility using animals has a properly functioning Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, including “all appropriate and necessary record keeping.”

The subcommittee added funds to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service for the agency to provide oversight of ARS’ animal research locations.

“By linking significant funding to animal welfare reforms, Congress sends a strong message to the USDA that animal abuse at federal research facilities will not be tolerated,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. “The public has a particularly keen interest in rooting out the mistreatment of animals at facilities funded by our tax dollars."

This legislation follows an exposé by The New York Times in January of this year, which unveiled the suffering and death of tens of thousands of animals at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center, an ARS facility located in Clay, Nebraska that was carrying out research in pursuit of increasing factory farm profits.

Abuses at USMARC include newborn lambs being left to fend for themselves from predators and extreme weather conditions and cows being ‘engineered’ to give birth to multiple calves, many of whom are born malformed. The focus on mass production leaves litters of piglets so large that some are crushed by their mother.

The HSUS and HSLF are also urging passage of the Animal Welfare in Agricultural Research Endeavors (AWARE) Act, which will require federal facilities that conduct agricultural research on animals to follow the minimum standards of the Animal Welfare Act, a practice currently excluded from the federal law. We would further like a commitment from the USDA that they will adopt these provisions voluntarily.

The legislation, S. 388 and H.R. 746, is sponsored by Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Reps. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., Mike Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., and Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y.

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