PETA to USDA: End Draconian ‘Tax’ on Farmers That Pays for Cruel, Deadly Animal Tests

Group Urges Agency to Stop Experiments That Involve Douching, Poisoning, Starving, and Beheading Thousands of Mice, Rats, and Pigs

For Immediate Release:
September 8, 2020

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382


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 (known as “checkoffs”). Some of these funds are used for deadly animal tests for marketing fruits and vegetables.

PETA’s letter notes that many of the 21 agricultural commodity boards—whose boards of directors are appointed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)—fund these experiments, which include douching, poisoning, force-feeding, starving, irradiating, bleeding, suffocating, beheading, and dissecting animals in misguided efforts to establish human health claims for marketing their agricultural products and ingredients, despite drastic physiological differences between species. These tests on animals are neither relevant to humans nor required by law.

More than 2,600 animals, including mice, rats, and pigs, were used in tests funded by agricultural commodity boards 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.

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

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.

“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

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