PETA to USDA: End Farmer-Funded Food Tests on Animals Involving Beheading, Suffocation, and More

For Immediate Release:
March 22, 2021

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

Washington – This morning, PETA called on newly reappointed Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to prohibit mandatory “assessment fees” paid by farmers from continuing to support deadly animal experiments funded by various fruit, vegetable, and grain research and promotion (R&P) boards, or “checkoffs,” which are overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

In 2020, PETA sent a letter to then–Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, noting that many of the 21 agricultural commodity R&P boards fund these experiments, which are not required by law and have involved douching, poisoning, force-feeding, starving, irradiating, bleeding, suffocating, beheading, and dissecting animals. Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.) also sent a letter to Perdue last year, calling for a timeline for ending the use of farmers’ money to bankroll “painful and ineffective animal experimentation” funded by the R&P boards.

“The USDA is forcing farmers to fund outrageous tests in which thousands of animals are beheaded for blueberries, suffocated for soybeans, mutilated for mangoes, and more, when these foods could instead be safely studied in humans,” says PETA Vice President Shalin Gala. “PETA is urging Secretary Vilsack to crack down on agricultural checkoffs that rip off farmers and waste their hard-earned money on cruel animal tests that don’t advance human health.”

More than 2,600 animals, including mice, rats, and pigs, were used in tests funded by agricultural commodity R&P 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 and receiving e-mails from more than 85,000 consumers, the Hass Avocado Board—which had funded avocado experiments in which animals were force-fed, starved, bled, suffocated, and dissected—adopted a new public policy stating that it “does not support, fund, or conduct animal research.”

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 follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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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