On the Road with Geni: Animal Agriculture Alliance Meeting

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The 2010 Animal Agriculture Alliance meeting was held in Arlington, Va. this week. The theme, “Truth, Lies and Videotape: Is Activism Jeopardizing Food Security?” brought out more than 170 people from the animal agriculture industry.

Alliance Executive Vice President Kay Johnson said the theme was chosen because we are seeing more and more impact through legislation and policies dictating or eliminating technologies and systems that are scientifically based and utilized in animal agriculture. “Because of the activist agenda more producers are struggling to continue farming and ranching,” she said. “This will have an impact on our nation’s ability to feed itself.”

Johnson said the speakers were well-received by the audience and the speakers gave participants many ideas on how to return home and fight animal activism while promoting their animal agriculture businesses. “We need to be proactive as businesses or farms in implementing animal care programs, training employees, using best management practices, communicating with customers about on-farm programs, strengthening our hiring practices and being vigilant that any employees who don’t have our bests interests are not sabotaging our operations.”

Randall Singer, DVM, PhD, MPVM, University of Minnesota, talked about antibiotic use in the U.S. and Denmark, and what has happened since Denmark stopped subtherapeutic use. One of the consequences was the change in landscape of Danish farms. “There is a myth that reduction in agricultural antibiotic use is synonymous with a return to the ‘pasture-based family farm’,” he said. In Denmark there was a decline in farms from 25,000 to 10,000 between 1995 and 2005. And it was the smaller farms that went out of business, not the larger farms.

Singer spoke about translating the often-complicated messages about antibiotic use to a consumer audience. “We need to be creative and proactive and tell the public how we are using antibiotics,” he said. “Keeping animals healthy maintains a healthier food supply, results in fewer foodborne illnesses and fewer sick people. The availability of antibiotics to veterinarians is a key tool in our arsenal to keep those animals healthy.”


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