USDA’s Plan to Collaborate With Industries It’s Tasked With Regulating Slammed by PETA

Inadequate Enforcement of Animal-Protection Law Leads to Suffering, Death

For Immediate Release:
January 30, 2015

David Perle 202-483-7382

Washington – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is supposed to regulate the use of animals in the laboratory, wholesale pet-trade, and entertainment industries—yet its new Strategic Plan prioritizes “collaboration” with these industries, a move putting already vulnerable animals in the crosshairs of the industries that exploit them. That’s why PETA rushed a letter today calling on Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to revise the plan immediately to ensure that the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) is enforced, not undermined.

As PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—notes in the letter, the new plan refers to industries covered by the AWA as “customers” with whom the USDA provides “services,” setting a dangerous precedent that leaves animals vulnerable.

“It is astounding that just a week after The New York Timesdamning coverage of the government’s failure to enforce its own rules, the USDA would release a plan that embodies this same disregard for animal welfare,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “PETA is calling on the authorities to do the right thing and revise this plan immediately to better enforce the laws designed to protect animals.”

PETA also notes that the USDA’s own Office of Inspector General has determined that taking a “cooperative” approach with regulated industries undermines effective enforcement and animal welfare. In just one recent example, a hippopotamus used by Carson & Barnes Circus ultimately died after receiving inadequate veterinary care for months. Carson & Barnes has racked up nearly 150 violations of the AWA yet has been permitted to go on violating it with virtually no consequences because of the USDA’s “cooperation.”

PETA’s letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack is available upon request. For more information, please visit

For Media: Contact PETA's
Media Response Team.


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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