If you weren’t already aware, the USDA is the United States Department of Agriculture. This is the U.S. federal executive department which is responsible for developing federal laws in relation to farming, agriculture forestry and food. They also uphold several reports and pieces of information on their website regarding animal welfare and treatment. At least, they used to.
As of Friday the 3rd of February, Trump’s administration ordered the USDA to remove these reports and documents from it’s website, making them inaccessible to everyone. The reason why is still unclear.
Although the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service did release a statement later to inform that after a “comprehensive review,” actions have been made in which information from documents such as the Animal Welfare Act and Horse Protection Act have been removed.
In the future, more information is going to be removed from their website. This includes inspection reports, research facility annual reports and enforcement records.
Without any surprise, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have had their say about this already as Kathy Guillermo, their senior vice president, stated it was a “shameful attempt to keep the public from knowing when and which laws have been violated.”
For any member of the public to access the redacted documentation and any violations against the Animal Welfare Act and Horse Protection Act they must submit a Freedom of Information Act Request (FOIA) which are openly believed to take years before they receive approval.
When the USDA had these documents and the information they supplied available, they were most often accessed and used by animal rights activists so that the welfare of animals at circuses, zoos, and scientific labs could be monitored, and the animals could be protected.
Furthermore, families and individuals with the intentions of adopting pets could also access the USDA’s documentation and online database to discover information about dog breeders before they purchase their new pet.
Several states have the requirement that all puppies must be sourced through breeders who possess clean USDA inspection reports. With the extraction of these documents from their website at the request of Trump Administration, these puppies’ backgrounds are less likely to be traceable.
Since the news and the USDA’s statement surfaced, dozens of animal welfare organisations have expressed their disapproval and have openly condemned the removal of the information in the belief and fear that this will only make animal abuse go unnoticed.
It is unknown whether the removal or this information from USDA’s website is a permanent or temporary change at the request of Trumps administration, but it is unacceptable no matter what.
As an animal rights activist, what I would love to question is why has this been done? Why has it been assumed necessary to remove the public’s access to what’s happening to our earths animals?
Many people have referenced the resources usefulness and its ability to help raise awareness and decrease animal abuse. It’s also encouraged and helped many animal rights activists to fight for their cause. But what will happen now? Will animal abuse now be swept under the rug thanks to Trump’s administration? I hope not.