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Report: Oversight needed at Nebraska animal research center

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The report calls on the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service to establish new policies and oversight for treatment of research animals as well as a formal process for reporting abuses.

CLAY CENTER, Neb. (AP) — A recent report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture says a federal livestock research facility near Clay Center should improve oversight of animal welfare and be more transparent with its research.

The Lincoln Journal Star reports that the federal department’s Office of Inspector General found no evidence of systemic animal abuse in its audit of the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center, but criticized the facility for not prioritizing animal welfare policies.

The report calls on the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service to establish new policies and oversight for treatment of research animals as well as a formal process for reporting abuses.

“Over the past 30 years, some employees have reportedly been reluctant to report animal welfare complaints for fear of retaliation or indifference by facility management,” the report says.

The investigation came in the wake of a 2015 New York Times article that alleged a longstanding culture tolerant of animal neglect and abuse as researchers sought to generate bigger profits for the livestock industry.

Nebraska Cattlemen and the Nebraska Farm Bureau cheered the report as vindication in the face of unjust accusations.

“The men and women at U.S. MARC have always cared for the animals to the highest standards,” said Nebraska Cattlemen Executive Vice President Pete McClymont.

“Animal rights activists have proven once again their calculated actions were meant to damage animal agriculture by maligning the reputation of the world’s preeminent authority on livestock and meat protein research.”

The Nebraska research center sits on 33,000 acres of a former World War II-era naval munitions depot between Hastings and Clay Center.

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