Animals Tortured at Taxpayer Expense

Why are animals tortured by the USDA? To make animal production “more profitable.” Seriously.


I don’t believe in animal rights. But I do think that gratuitous cruelty to animals is wrong. “Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast, but the mercy of the wicked is cruel” (Proverbs 12:10; ESV). Not everything that is wrong should be illegal. And if animal pain is truly necessary to help humans, I think it is a proper trade-off. Private industry should be left alone to use animals as they see fit.

So it amazes me that I am posting about an animal-rights group, not to mock them, but to point out a problem they have mentioned—even though they don’t see it all that clearly. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has sent a letter to the USDA. They explain their reason for doing so here:

We’re all still reeling from last week’s revelations in The New York Times of animal mistreatment that verges on the sadistic at the USDA’s U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (USMARC). The violent images depicted in the exposé—a pig being dissected alive by an apparently gleeful researcher, a young cow left to die from her injuries after USDA employees immobilized her and allowed her to be mounted by bulls for hours until her legs broke, hundreds of “rag-doll” lambs dead in a field because researchers intentionally left them out in the cold—paint a picture of the USDA’s callous indifference to animal suffering.

Other than a few tepid statements, the USDA has done little over the past week to refute the notion that apathy toward animal suffering is endemic at the agency. The agency’s anemic response certainly raises questions about what other horrors might yet be discovered at the other federal Agricultural Research Services facilities in about a dozen states across the country that conduct research aimed at making animal production more profitable.

Wait a minute.

Who came up with the stupid idea that taxpayers and public debt should be used to “conduct research” to make a specific industry “more profitable.” First, unless they do it for every industry, it is completely unfair. Secondly, there is no reason for it. Industries already do their own research and find ways to be more profitable. That’s why those industries exist in the first place. (I’m sure politicians think all industries began with government research, but they are deluded).

[See also, “Government Protecting Us from Threats We Would Never See without Them.”]

The New York Times article they mention is pretty gross.

Pigs are having many more piglets — up to 14, instead of the usual eight — but hundreds of those newborns, too frail or crowded to move, are being crushed each year when their mothers roll over. Cows, which normally bear one calf at a time, have been retooled to have twins and triplets, which often emerge weakened or deformed, dying in such numbers that even meat producers have been repulsed.

Then there are the lambs. In an effort to develop “easy care” sheep that can survive without costly shelters or shepherds, ewes are giving birth, unaided, in open fields where newborns are killed by predators, harsh weather and starvation.

And then there is this:

[T]hese endeavors have come at a steep cost to the center’s animals, which have been subjected to illness, pain and premature death, over many years. The research to increase pig litters began in 1986; the twin calves have been dying at high rates since 1984, and the easy care lambs for 10 years.

So would private investment have contrived such tortures? Maybe. Would they have been able to keep the investment going for over a decade with no results? I can’t be certain that the answer is no but it is much less likely.

Basically, animal torture is being developed by people with access to free money. They can do unnecessary, unproductive things, never having to justify themselves to anyone who really values the money.

Yet the New York Times article simply assumes it is the job of the Federal Government to foster food production. “The potential benefits are huge: animals that produce more offspring, yield more meat and cost less to raise.”

Since Congress founded it 50 years ago to consolidate the United States Department of Agriculture’s research on farm animals, the center has worked to make lamb chops bigger, pork loins less fatty, steaks easier to chew. It has fought the spread of disease, fostered food safety and helped American ranchers compete in a global marketplace.

Really? The giant food companies were too busy poisoning us all with high-fructose corn syrup that they couldn’t have made these developments themselves?

Socialism breeds animal cruelty.