A January 19 article in The New York Times shined an extremely harsh light on the practices at the USDA’s Meat Animal Research Center (MARC) in Clay Center, Nebraska. The in-depth article described indefensible acts that have taken place at MARC over the past several decades, including: newborn lambs left alone to die of starvation, exposure, and predation; breeding experiments causing deformities in calves; and treatment being intentionally withheld from suffering animals against the recommendations of veterinarians—all to accomplish the stated objective of “increasing the efficiency of production while maintaining a lean, high quality product.”
AWI wrote to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, stating our alarm and recommending that an immediate investigation be undertaken, with appropriate corrective action, including possible closure of the facility. AWI sent out an eAlert, asking citizens to write in, as well. Sec. Vilsack responded to the outcry by convening an independent panel to review the policies and practices within the agency and announcing that the USDA will create an updated Animal Welfare Strategy plan for farm animal research facilities.