Campaign Updates: USDA ‘Tax’ on Farmers Funds Cruel Tests

Experimenters are douching, poisoning, force-feeding, starving, radiating, bleeding, suffocating, beheading, and dissecting animals purportedly to make health claims for marketing blueberries, watermelons, and other common foods to consumers. Funding for these worthless and deadly tests comes from a portion of the hundreds of millions of dollars in annual fees that farmers are required to pay to agricultural commodity research and promotion boards (known as “checkoffs”), whose boards of directors are appointed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). We’ve urged Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to abolish what effectively amounts to a draconian “tax” on farmers who pay for these cruel tests and to end this senseless bloodshed—and you can help.

Mice Mutilated for Mangoes? PETA Blasts National Board Over Animal Tests

November 1, 2023

Just in time for the National Mango Board’s (NMB) 19th anniversary, PETA blasted the organization with a three-pronged campaign demanding that it ban the torment, mutilation, and killing of animals just to market fruit. The blitz included a pair of juicy public appeals: A mobile version traversed the streets around the NMB’s Orlando, Florida, headquarters, while a full-page print version was plastered across Orlando Weekly. PETA alerted NMB Chair Albert Perez to the campaign,  urging him to implement a public policy banning the conducting, funding, and commissioning of animal tests—something that numerous major food and beverage manufacturers have already done.

New PETA Ad Blitz Urges Members of Congress to Ban Animal Testing in 2023 Farm Bill

July 14, 2023

PETA has launched an eye-catching digital ad blitz, featuring a mouse urging members of Congress to take action on the 2023 Farm Bill and prohibit the use of farmers’ assessment fees to fund pointless animal testing.

Illustrated ad showing two gloved hands cutting into a white mouse. This illustration is surrounded by fruits and vegetables. The text at the top reads congress stop usda from forcing farmers to fund cruel animal tests!

PETA Urges Members of Congress to Ban Animal Testing in Farm Bill

April 14, 2023

PETA submitted a formal comment and circulated a factsheet to the House Committee on Agriculture, which is soliciting public input regarding the upcoming 2023 Farm Bill, urging members of Congress to take action on the draft bill by prohibiting agricultural commodity research and promotion boards, otherwise known as “checkoffs,” from using farmers’ mandatory assessment fees to pay for animal testing. PETA wrote that these invasive, deadly tests on animals are economically unnecessary for marketing common foods like blueberries, mangoes, mushrooms, and watermelons; financially wasteful for farmers who are trying to make ends meet; scientifically irrelevant to human health; and blatantly cruel to animals. We also emphasized that such testing on animals is not required by law and is entirely unnecessary, given the long history of safe human use of agricultural products. PETA hopes the 2023 Farm Bill will include a ban on animal testing funded by checkoffs.

Image with a photo of a pig with the following text: "Twelve of the 21 agricultural research and promotion (R&P) boards, or "checkoffs," overseen by the U.S Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service are compelling farmers; agricultural producers, handlers, processors, and importers; and others to fund cruel experiments on animals through their checkoff fees. The tests, used in attempts to bolster health claims in order to market agricultural products, are entirely unnecessary"

PETA Activists Confront National Watermelon Promotion Board at Virtual Event

March 29, 2023

A PETA supporter called on the National Watermelon Promotion Board (NWPB) to stop funding deadly animal testing not required by law, during a virtual meeting of the panel. The animal advocate posted a written question for NWPB President Christian Murillo.

Mr. Murillo: The National Watermelon Promotion Board has provided funding for cruel experiments that involved repeatedly force-feeding rats watermelon, injecting them with a carcinogen, and killing and dissecting them. When will the NWPB commit to prohibiting funding, conducting, and commissioning of all animal tests, which are opposed by the majority of the public, which don’t help to promote farmers’ watermelon products, and which have already been banned by the Hass Avocado Board?

Our message was clearly received, and we hope the board will soon take action to ban animal testing.

PETA Supporters Confront United Soybean Board Vice President at Farmers’ Convention

March 10, 2023

PETA supporters shouted down Mac Marshall, vice president of market intelligence for the United Soybean Board (USB), at the 2023 Commodity Classic, an annual agricultural convention. The animal advocates exposed the USB’s shameful refusal to ban animal testing funded by farmers and urged the organization to use modern, human-relevant research methods instead.

PETA Activists Crash Blueberry Convention to Protest Animal Exploitation

February 23, 2023

During the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council’s Blueberry Convention in San Diego, local activists took to the streets to urge the council to stop supporting deadly animal testing that isn’t required by law. The activists held signs reading, “USHBC: End Cruel, Useless Animal Tests,” and distributed informative leaflets to passersby as part of PETA’s latest push to get the council to stop funding animal tests.

Protesters pictured outside of hotel

National Black Farmers Groups and PETA: Stop Bloody Animal Tests, USDA!

October 28, 2021 

Farms to Grow, a national advocacy group for Black and other underserved minority farmers, has joined PETA in writing to the USDA and agricultural checkoff boards to demand that farmers’ hard-earned money stop being used to fund animal experiments.

“It … defies logic that these tests—in which animals have been beheaded for blueberries, mutilated for mangoes, and suffocated for soybeans—would purport to help promote those agricultural products, since the majority of consumers don’t support animal cruelty. Conducting these tests is a horrible marketing strategy that does a disservice to farmers, consumers, and animals.”

—Gail P. Myers, Ph.D., Cofounder, Farms to Grow

Family Agriculture Resource Management Services (F.A.R.M.S.), another national advocacy group for Black farmers, also joined PETA in writing to the USDA and agricultural checkoff boards.

“Many farmers in today’s economy are struggling. They don’t need barbaric tests on animals to sell their agricultural commodities. Rather, they need economic relief from inflated assessment fees that are wasted on worthless experiments on animals. We are firmly against taxing farmers to fund needless and senseless animal tests.”

—Jillian Hishaw, Esq. LL.M (Agricultural Law), Founding Director, F.A.R.M.S.

Victory! After Pressure From PETA, Hass Avocado Board Bans Animal Testing

January 28, 2021

After hearing from PETA and more than 85,000 compassionate supporters, the Hass Avocado Board (HAB)—one of the major agricultural commodity research and promotion (R&P) boards that’s overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture—has adopted a new public policy stating that it “does not support, fund, or conduct animal research.” HAB previously sponsored experiments on animals in a purported attempt to make dubious health claims for marketing avocados to consumers. For instance, HAB funded an experiment in which mice were repeatedly force-fed an avocado ingredient, starved for eight hours, injected with glucose and insulin, bled from their tails, killed by suffocation, and then drained of their blood and dissected. It’s time that all the agricultural commodity R&P boards followed HAB’s lead to focus exclusively on human-relevant research.

Rep. Dina Titus Joins PETA to Fight Fees Farmers Must Pay for Animal Tests

October 26, 2020

U.S. Rep. Dina Titus of Nevada urged then-Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to provide a timeline for ending the use of mandatory annual fees paid by farmers to fund “cruel and inefficient” animal experiments commissioned by agricultural commodity research and promotion (R&P) boards, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture oversees. Regarding these tests—which are purportedly funded to make dubious human health claims about blueberries, watermelons, and other common foods—Titus writes in her letter to Perdue, “In light of the incongruity between the cruelty of these experiments and the commodities at study, the R&P boards should instead look to utilize new, innovative research technologies instead of wasting farmers’ dollars on painful and ineffective animal experimentation.”

Note: PETA supports animal rights, opposes all forms of animal exploitation, and educates the public on those issues. PETA does not directly or indirectly participate or intervene in any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office or any political party.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind