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Congress orders USDA to restore transparency, completeness, to animal welfare reports

MEREDITH WADMAN: ‘There was an outcry from both animal welfare groups and animal research defenders 13 months ago when the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) blacked out a public database containing thousands of animal welfare inspection reports, as well as records of enforcement actions that USDA took against violators of the Animal Welfare Act, including research facilities… Now, Congress is telling USDA that it isn’t happy about the situation, and is ordering the agency to clean up its act and make the database more user-friendly.

Lawmakers released a report accompanying USDA’s 2018 spending bill. The report notes the agency “is now posting heavily redacted inspection reports that make it difficult in certain cases for the public to understand the subject of the inspection, assess USDA’s subsequent actions, and to evaluate the effectiveness of its enforcement”… That move violates previous congressional direction, the report says, which requires “that the online searchable database should allow analysis and comparison of data and include all inspection reports, annual reports, and other documents related to enforcement of animal welfare laws. USDA is directed to comply with these requirement”.’ SOURCE…

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