PETA to USDA: End Draconian ‘Tax’ on Farmers for Washington-Based National Processed Raspberry Council

Group Urges Agency to Stop Tests by Washington-Based National Processed Raspberry Council and Others, Which Poison and Starve Thousands of Animals

For Immediate Release:
September 8, 2020

Amanda Tumbleson 202-483-7382

Bellingham, Wash.

This morning, PETA sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue urging him to prohibit what amounts to an exorbitant “tax” on farmers, who must pay hundreds of millions in annual fees to agricultural commodity research and promotion boards (also known as “checkoffs”). Some of these funds are used for deadly animal tests, sponsored by the Lynden-based National Processed Raspberry Council (NPRC)—which was disbanded in 2019 and taken over by the Washington Red Raspberry Commission (WRRC)—and others, for marketing fruits and vegetables.

PETA’s letter notes that many of the 21 agricultural commodity boards, including the NPRC, are overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and fund these animal experiments. Some of the NPRC’s sponsored animal tests include the following:

  • Experimenters mated mice, swabbed their vaginas, fed them a high-fat diet containing a substance common in grapes and raspberries, killed some of the babies, fed the surviving babies a high-fat diet then starved them, injected them with glucose, repeatedly took their blood, put them in a 39°F room for six hours, repeatedly shoved a thermometer into their rectums, broke both the mothers’ and babies’ necks to kill them, and then dissected them.
  • They forced rats to perform a series of stress-inducing tests in which they had to grab wires while suspended, struggle to walk on rods that rotated at an accelerating speed, swim through a maze, and grab on to a metal grid while being pulled by the tail. Experimenters then took their blood, fed them raspberries, and killed and dissected them. Eighteen of the animals died or had to be killed early because of excessive weight loss.

These tests on animals are neither relevant to humans nor required by law. More than 2,600 mice, rats, and pigs were used in tests funded by the checkoff programs and published between 2015 and 2019. The Government Accountability Office reports that in 2016, assessment fees for agricultural commodity producers, handlers, processors, importers, and others totaled over $885 million.

PETA points out that these agricultural products—including blueberries, mushrooms, and watermelons—are commonplace foods with a long history of safe human consumption. Researchers could have instead pursued safe and effective human studies, which would yield human-relevant results.

After discussions with PETA, dozens of major food and beverage manufacturers—including PepsiCo, the Kellogg Company, and Barilla—have established policies against animal testing.

“Forcing American farmers to pay what amounts to a draconian ‘tax’ to fund barbaric, lethal animal experiments for marketing agricultural products is cruel and doesn’t advance human health,” says PETA Vice President Shalin Gala. “PETA is urging the USDA to cut wasteful spending on misguided animal tests and instead require agricultural commodity boards to use superior, non-animal research methods.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit or click here.

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