USDA’s Claims Regarding Removal of Animal Welfare Records Are Ridiculous - Here’s Why
As many of us are now aware, the USDA removed animal welfare records from their website on February 3rd, 2017. No warning, no comment period - just removed them. The USDA is now starting to backpedal making the following claims:
Claim Number 1:
USDA Public Specialist, Tanya Espinosa: "These decisions are not final.".... "Adjustments may be made regarding information appropriate for release and posting."
Why That Is Suspicious:
1. On February 3rd Tanya Espinosa advised the New York Times that the USDA removed the records at approximately 11am that day. However, she did not state at that time it was only temporary. It was days later on February 7th, after receiving push-back, that she made her second statement claiming that the removal is not final.
2. If this removal is only temporary and the USDA has every intention on re-granting access to the records, how long is this adjustment period going to take? I ask this question because I’m wondering exactly how long dog abusers and horse sorers who received official warnings and failed inspections are going to be able to hide from animal welfare organizations and the public.
Claim Number 2:
On February 7th the USDA also claimed, “In 2016, well before the change of Administration, APHIS decided to make adjustments to the posting of regulatory records.” (The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is an agency within USDA responsible for upholding and enforcing the Animal Welfare Act and the Horse Protection Act)
Why That Is Ridiculous:
1. Regardless of whether or not there was consideration, if agriculture secretary, Tom Vilsack or the Obama administration wanted to remove the animal welfare records from public access in 2016, it would have been done. It was not done. The USDA made no statements including such information regarding the Obama administration and provided no time for legislative or public comment prior to removing the actual records off the website on February 3rd.
2. Although we’re all adjusting to political statements being made via Twitter, Matthew Herrick, who was USDA’s Communications Director and Senior Advisor during the Obama Administration posted, “Decision by @usda 2 remove animal abuse reports not required. Totally subjective. Same option given 2 past admin. We refused. # transparency.”
Claim Number 3:
USDA Public Specialist Espinosa’s statement echoed what is posted as an alert on the USDA website when attempting to access the animal welfare records, which reads: “APHIS is currently involved in litigation concerning, among other issues, information posted on the agency’s website. While the agency is vigorously defending against this litigation, in an abundance of caution, the agency is taking additional measures to protect individual privacy.”
Why That Makes No Sense What-S0-Ever:
1. Firstly, if you are a dog breeder, horse breeder, horse trainer or participate in events such as the Tennessee Big Lick, your information has to be made available to the public. People have no problem sharing their contact information when making sales, or winning their beautiful blue ribbons. They only happen to have a problem with it when they are caught blatantly abusing animals.
2. If the USDA was to restore access to the animal welfare records after having removed what they are now deeming to be ‘private’, the information would be useless. What good is access to a failed inspection report if you do not have the name and address of the organization or person who was inspected?
3. Regardless of any current litigation, take special notice of the sentence within the statement, “...in an abundance of caution, the agency is taking additional measures to protect individual privacy.” That means that the removal of the Animal Welfare information actually was not a necessity according to the law and the records were removed off the website because the agency wanted to do so.
So Why Would The USDA Want To Remove The Animal Welfare Records?
Okay, now we’re getting somewhere:
1. Among the Trump administration is top adviser to the USDA, Brian Klippenstein. Mr. Klippenstein is the executive director of Protect the Harvest, an organization with a mission to, “Inform America’s consumers, businesses and decision-makers about the threats posed by animal rights groups and anti-farming extremists.”
For example, one of the ‘rights and traditions’ that Protect the Harvest so strongly defends is the right to use elephants in the circus, which even Ringling Brothers themselves, a company making millions from such animal exploitation, has come to admit is not in the best interest of the animals, their company or the public.
2. There are two relevant bills currently in US legislation, the Prevent All Soring Tactics Act (PAST Act), and the Federal Accountability in Animal Testing Act, HR 816 (FACT Act).
The PAST Act has bipartisan support, over 270 cosponsors and was signed by the Obama Administration. However, the rule was not published in time and it was frozen by the Trump Administration, where it now sits. The PAST Act clearly is a major threat to those lining their pockets through horse breeding and special interests such as the Tennessee Big Lick. Documentation and research leading to the prosecution of horse abusers within breeding and those special interest where included in the animal welfare records that have been removed.
The FACT Act was literally just introduced into the US House of Representatives on February 2, 2017. It is in the process of gaining sponsors and would strengthen the transparency and accountability regarding tax funded federal animal testing. The government has admitted that such animal testing is expensive, outdated and irrelevant, however, continue to use our tax money to fund them. We cannot put legislative or public pressure on them to discontinue the torturous and unnecessary animal testing unless we have access to the reports. It is the FACT Act that would require stronger documentation and review of existing reports regarding such experiments, which have now been removed from the USDA’s animal welfare website.
Who Should The USDA Protect - The People And Animals Of Our Nation? - Or Those Who Abuse Them?
Find Out Who Your US House Representatives Are Here
Find Out Who Your Senators Are Here
White House Contact Info Here
Contact your legislatures and the White House: Advise them that you wish to have the USDA’s Animal Welfare records fully restored and urge them to support the PAST Act (HR 3268/S 1121) and FACT Act (HR 816).
Spread The Word: People can’t make changes if they don’t have the information. Share this post and any other information you find while researching animal welfare.
Support HSUS’s Attempt To Have USDA’s Animal Welfare Records Restored Here
Support the FACT Act Here