My father-in-law is notorious for always striving to multi-task…He wants to accomplish as much as possible all of the time. I have to admit that, most of the time, I share this sentiment.
My original invitation to travel to Washington DC last week came from the Academy of Veterinary Consultants (AVC). The AVC is a group of veterinarians that spend the majority of their professional time caring for cattle. They are the professionals that help me to offer the best possible care to my cattle which ensures that you receive the best possible beef.
The AVC and its veterinary members get together three times per year for professional training and continuing education relative to cattle care. I was asked to speak to their group about the Holistic Animal Care program that I use at my cattle feed yard to ensure optimal animal health and performance. It was a tremendous honor for me to be asked to speak to this group.
Because I wanted to maximize my trip, I asked my cattlemen’s organization (there are professional organizations made up of cattle farmers like me) if I could help them with anything on Capitol Hill while I was in Washington DC. The Hill was officially on recess but I participated in a Beef 101 educational seminar for Congressional Staff both on the House and Senate sides. During the seminar, I shared how I care for cattle and raise beef with interested staff members. This time, I was lucky to be able to work with Dr. Guy Loneragan of Texas Tech University.
We specifically talked about the daily care of cattle, and the role that antibiotics play on cattle farms. Dr. Loneragan shared with our audience the scientific complexity of the antibiotic resistance issue. It was an appropriate topic given that the Federal Drug Administration made a couple of big announcements regarding the use of antibiotics in food animals while we were in Washington DC.
I did a lengthy series of posts late last fall on antibiotic use and the subsequent risk of resistance that comes with that use. I encourage you all to read them as I believe them to be both accurate and applicable: https://feedyardfoodie.wordpress.com/2011/11/29/the-balancer/
It always disappoints me when the AP news story reporting on new FDA antibiotic guidance documents reads something like this: The FDA cracked down this week on the irresponsible use of antibiotics by farmers who overcrowd their animals and fill them with important human antibiotics to make them grow faster and enable them to survive horrible and crowded living conditions.
Quite honestly, as I read a passage such as that, I want to subsequently cry and beat my head against the wall! Statements such as the one above do not represent what occurs on my cattle farm and I can say with confidence that they do not represent what occurs on most cattle farms. To set the record straight, I would like to make the following personal statements:
- I do not use important human antibiotics to improve the growth of my animals.
- I only use antibiotics to control disease and treat ill animals.
- I make it a priority to keep the living conditions of my animals conducive to animal comfort. My cattle pens are spacious and allow for normal bovine interaction.
- I do everything in my power to ensure that my cattle are “set up for success” so that they naturally prosper and make safe beef.
- I realize as both a mom and a cattle caregiver the incredible importance of judiciously using antibiotics whether it is in my home with my children or on the farm with my cattle. I share that responsibility with every other American and I take it very seriously.