What’s the Background?
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service’s Meat Animal Research Center (MARC) in Clay Center, Neb., for the past 50 years has conducted research on food animals in a real-world setting. A strictly controlled laboratory setting cannot replicate the environment of America’s farms and ranches. An early 2015 New York Times article alleged mistreatment of research animals at MARC and questioned the value of the research conducted at the center. While the allegations are worthy of investigation, it should be noted that several of the charges seem highly improbable as described. The Secretary of Agriculture has made assurances that animal welfare will remain a top priority at MARC and at all USDA agricultural animal research facilities and initiated a comprehensive review of animal handling at MARC. Additionally, the USDA Inspector General conducted an independent review of the allegations made in the New York Times story.
Why Does It Matter to Our Producers?
MARC has a distinguished history of conducting practical, authoritative research related to America’s livestock populations. The research has paid real and significant dividends not only to livestock producers but to public health and animal well-being. Recent allegations of animal mistreatment published in the New York Times have placed this work in jeopardy.
What is NPPC’s position?
NPPC supports MARC’s research on animal science, animal health, and food safety, as well as full funding of its research programs. It also supports implementation of safeguards to ensure animal well-being should allegations of animal mistreatment prove true. NPPC opposes suspending or de-funding MARC research programs, which would sacrifice on-going projects that have the potential to improve animal health and well-being, as well as public health.