Farming Magazine - May, 2010

DEPARTMENTS

Letter

I am a fourth-generation farmer. I was very upset when I read the article “Pigs and In-Feed Antibiotics” in your March 2010 edition. I am upset the truth about livestock and antibiotics was not stated in this article. I take great pride in being able to produce the safest, most affordable food I can for my family and yours.

Many consumers do not know several layers of protection have been put in place to ensure antibiotics are used to keep animals healthy without harm to public health. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves antibiotics for four purposes: treatment of illness, prevention of disease, control of disease and nutritional efficiency of animals. Antibiotics in feed help animals by controlling the bacteria that can interfere with their ability to absorb nutrients. Animals become healthier and stronger, and fewer animals contract serious diseases. Healthy animals mean healthy food for you and your family. Antibiotics are perfectly safe to use on food animals. The FDA and U.S. Department of Agriculture, along with the veterinary community, animal health companies and producer organizations have put in place several layers of human health protections to reduce any risks associated with antibiotic use in animals. Our livestock don’t have health insurance like my family does; so every time I give them antibiotics, it affects my bottom line. If I was not to give my livestock the proper medications to improve their health I would consider this inhumane. The last thing I want is for my livestock to suffer.

A 2004 study done by scientists at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine in which the potential risks associated with increased levels of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in meat were compared with the potential benefits associated with decreased risk of food-borne illness found potential benefits to human health associated with the use.

Thank you for taking the time to read my letter. I hope you have a better understanding of why farmers use antibiotics when raising livestock.

Tiffany Briggs