Tell USDA: Cruel industry norms are unacceptable
Thank you for investigating animal mistreatment in research conducted at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (MARC). However,I was disappointed to see that the Interim Report concluded that many of the abuses are “industry norms.” For example, the OIG determined that hundreds of piglets died at MARC as a result of being crushed by their mothers. But the report states that “Through our research, we determined that this is one of the most common causes of preweaning piglet mortality in the pork industry. We determined that USMARC’s live birth preweaning mortality rates were in line with industry norms.” Additionally the OIG report considered the annual death of 43 cattle due to exposure to be “generally in line with industry norms.” The report incorrectly concluded that pasture lambing research at MARC is an industry norm. This project attempts to breed lambs who can survive on their own, immediately after birth, in open fields with little human intervention. Records show that one-third or more of the lambs die in horrible, unacceptable ways, such as starvation, exposure or predation by coyotes. A Cornell professor of animal science told the New York Times that in similar research he conducted at Cornell, abandoned lambs were taken under the protection of staff. The Cornell research shows that pasture lambing research should not entail the wholesale abandonment of helpless, newborn animals. Piglets crushed by their mothers in alarming numbers, cows manipulated to have extreme numbers of offspring, animals starving, dying of abscesses, and left to die in pasture lambing projects should not be written off as “industry norms.” Please launch a wider investigation into animal care at MARC, along with the animal care operations at all 40 facilities of the USDA Agricultural Research Service.
This letter is going to the USDA Inspector General, Phyllis K. Fong
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