- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 16, 2015

CLAY CENTER, Neb. (AP) - A federal livestock facility in Nebraska said it can resume new research after addressing all recommendations of an independent review of its animal care practices.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack halted research in March at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center until better animal welfare oversight procedures were put in place. The center conducts scientific studies to help the livestock industry increase the quantity and quality of meat production.

A U.S. Department of Agriculture panel toured the center in March and found no evidence of animal mistreatment. But it said the center’s animal welfare committee wasn’t fulfilling its responsibilities to review and oversee research. The panel’s report came in response to a New York Times article in January that alleged systematic abuse of farm animals at the Nebraska facility.

The center’s director, John Pollak, said it has addressed seven of the recommendations for animal care and well-being in the panel’s report, the Lincoln Journal Star (https://bit.ly/1MHNGLj ) reported.

The research facility sits on 34,000 acres of a World War II era naval munitions depot between Hastings and Clay Center. It has a $22.7 million taxpayer-funded budget and employs more than 100 scientists and technicians. The center has operated in collaboration with the University of Nebraska nearly since its founding by Congress in the 1960s.

Around 100 university employees handle day-to-day operations, such as animal care and maintenance, at the center while USDA scientists oversee research.

Both USDA and the school are currently negotiating changes to their cooperative agreement. The review had recommended clarifying lines of responsibility for the oversight of animal care, research and teaching.

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, https://www.journalstar.com

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