The federal Agriculture Department is looking into recent media reports over controversial animal welfare conditions at its U.S. Meat Animal Research Center in Nebraska, it said on Wednesday.

The agency said in a statement that it was reviewing additional improvements in its animal science research, including in improving animal well-being.

The New York Times reported on Monday that the Nebraska research facility had failed to follow basic animal welfare standards when conducting decades of research.

Researchers at the center, which is overseen by the USDA's Agricultural Research Service, are tasked with finding ways to bolster the profitability of the U.S. livestock industry, according to the paper's report.

The research projects have ranged from making lamb chops bigger, pork loins less fatty and helping American livestock farmers fight animal diseases, the Times reported. In the process, according to the report, the center has put these animals into cruel and dangerous conditions and has operated outside of the federal Animal Welfare Act, which does not cover farm animals used in research.

The story can be found here: here (Reporting by P.J. Huffstutter, editing by Jo Winterbottom.)