Introduction of the Aware Actby Representative Earl Blumenauer
Posted on 2015-02-05
in the house of representatives
Thursday, February 5, 2015
Mr. BLUMENAUER. Mr. Speaker, today, along with my colleague and co-
chair of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, Mike Fitzpatrick,
I am pleased to introduce the Animal Welfare in Agricultural Research
Endeavors, or AWARE Act. This bill would ensure that farm animals used
in agricultural research at federal research facilities are included in
the definition of ``animal'' under the Animal Welfare Act.
A January 20, 2015 front page article in the New York Times, ``U.S. Research Lab Lets Livestock Suffer in Quest for Profit: Animal Welfare at Risk in Experiments for Meat Industry,'' examined horrendous abuses at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center, Nebraska. In the last 30 years, over half a million animals have been housed at the center. The center's experiments have included experiments to increase the number of twin births in cows and expand the litter size of pigs, without consideration of animal health impacts, and trying to breed ``easy care'' lambs that are born in open fields without human assistance--all with horrifying, and often unsuccessful results.
At least 6,500 animals are known to have starved to death at this facility alone. Unknown numbers have died from negligence such as easily treatable infections, exposure to bad weather, or attacks by predators. In just the last 10 years, this single center has cost nearly $200 million with taxpayers footing the bill for this shocking abuse of animals.
Appallingly, these animals are not currently protected under federal law. While the Animal Welfare Act ensures that certain minimum standards of humane care are required for federal and private research facilities, there is an exemption for farm animals ``used or intended for use for improving animal nutrition, breeding, management, or production efficiency, or for improving the quality of food or fiber''--from those basic protections. As a result, federal facilities like the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center don't have to obey the Animal Welfare Act.
This is why we are introducing the AWARE Act, which would close this loophole at federal research facilities. It is time that we step up to stop this horrible misuse of taxpayer funds. There is no reason that USDA agricultural research facilities experimenting on farm animals should not be held to the same standard as federal research facilities that conduct lifesaving disease research with the same kinds of animals.
This is a small step that this Congress can take quickly to show that we respond to animal abuse and that the federal government will lead by example.