Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Antibiotics & Farm Animals

This morning there was an article on the cover of the Wall Street Journal (the only newspaper worth reading) that focused on the evolution of antibiotic use in farm animals.  The essential point of the article was that as consumers showed more buying preference for animals raised without the use of antibiotics to promote growth, that this was leading to more farmers choosing to raise animals in this way to tap into this particular market.

I am an advocate for farmers being able to choose the production methods that are best for them, and consumers being able to choose the foods that fit the needs of their family best.  Last night I had the pleasure of sitting on a panel that answered questions on agriculture for claims agents through Nationwide insurance.  The panel followed table discussions on farming, and a delicious meal by the chefs at Northpointe Conference Center.  For each course, information was shared on where each ingredient originated, how far it travelled, and the cost of each item.  The most interesting item for me: a dinner which cost approximately $29 to make and could retail for $85 at a restaurant, brought less than $10 total to all the farmers who helped to raise it.

I always enjoy talking to people about farming, so the opportunity to answer questions on the panel was a great deal of fun for me.  There was questions on such diverse topics as organic versus conventional, the role of the FDA, and how GMOs can assist in feeding a growing world population. Conversations like this always highlight for me that people like to talk about food & farming -- and there is a definite lack of educated, fact-based knowledge on farming.

This was on my mind as I read the article this morning on antibiotic use.  As with most scenarios, perception can be everything.  The statistics shared in the article illustrated that the American public is very concerned about antibiotic use in farm animals -- and yet largely uneducated on facts when reaching this perception.  Just as with antibiotic use in humans, prudent & reasonable amounts can be of huge benefit.  Overuse in any animal (whether human or goat) is unnecessary.  What is necessary is that farmers have the ability to prudently treat animals who do need antibiotics.  I believe that consumers should have the freedom to support a variety of farming practices through their purchasing power.  If an antibiotic-free product can benefit a consumer & a farmer, then I am a definite advocate for this option!  I am also an advocate that farmers should have the ability to treat their animals in the best way possible for their situation.  Doody the Goat received antibiotics when he was little -- and this helped save his life!  He also received a course of medicated feed along with his fellow goats, when this was needed for them to grow in a healthy way.  Freedom of food choice is very good for consumers -- just as the freedom to farm in the best way possible is very good for farmers!

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