USDA has halted new research at a controversial farm facility (not pictured).

USDA has halted new research at a controversial farm facility (not pictured).

Terinea IT Support/Flickr/Creative Commons

USDA halts new research at controversial farm facility

A controversial U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) facility has been banned from launching new research projects until it takes steps to ensure the welfare of animals in its care, Reuters reports. The announcement, made today by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, concerns the agency’s Meat Animal Research Center, which has come under fire for allegedly causing suffering and death while trying to create larger and more fecund farm animals.

Last month, in response to the revelations, Congress proposed new protections for farm animals, backing a bill called the AWARE Act that would expand the scope of the Animal Welfare Act. A draft report released by USDA today says "no instances of animal abuse, misuse, or mistreatment were observed" at the facility, but that the center had not provided proper oversight of animal care. Vilsack said no new research would be conducted until oversight is improved.