Urging the USDA to Stop Rubber-Stamping Animal Welfare Act Licenses

In 2017, the Animal Legal Defense Fund submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Agriculture urging changes to the way the agency grants Animal Welfare Act (AWA) license renewals.


September 26, 2019

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Submitted comments.

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USDA did not respond to submitted comments.

In 2017, the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) began considering changes to the way it grants Animal Welfare Act (AWA) licenses. The Animal Legal Defense Fund submitted comments, urging changes to the process — specifically, to the way that AWA license renewals are granted.

When initially applying for a breeder, dealer, or exhibitor license, an individual must demonstrate compliance with the AWA. The USDA performs an inspection, then issues or withholds depending on whether the licensee complies with the AWA.

Each year licensees must reapply to continue the license, and the USDA essentially rubber-stamps approval. The USDA does not look for AWA compliance when it reissues the license. Indeed, USDA routinely reissues the license even if presented with compelling evidence that the facility is violating the law.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund strongly opposes the rubber-stamp license policy and has challenged it in court. We also submitted comments to the USDA urging changes to the policy that will better protect animals and uphold the AWA.

The USDA has not yet acted on our recommendations. The Animal Legal Defense Fund continues to advocate for the USDA to reform its AWA license renewal procedure and to put an end to rubber-stamped license renewals for AWA violators.

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