Saturday, July 17, 2010

Antibiotics, Katie and the Truth

This week CBS aired a piece on their evening news about antibiotic use on farms and ranches. Katie seemed very proud of herself for exposing the alleged abuse of antibiotics on livestock farms and ranches and the possibility of congress regulating their use. I viewed the piece and I am here to tell you that it is biased and very one-sided.

The truth is that there has never been a documented case of antibiotic resistance directly traced back to the use of these very necessary medicines in food animals. The use of antibiotics have allowed those of us in agriculture to greatly reduce disease and illness in our livestock. This allows us to produce a healthier, faster growing animal thus resulting in a safe, abundant, affordable source of protein for our families and neighbors.

In my short career in agriculture I have seen great improvements in the medicine available to farmers and ranchers. They allow us to use smaller doses, treat animals sooner and cure their illnesses faster. Just as advancements in human medicine have allowed us to lead healthier lives, advancements in veterinary medicine have allowed us to provide our animals a healthier life.

The assertions that antibiotics are abused and used in excess is just not true. We only use what is necessary just because we know the more antibiotics are used the less effective they become when we really need them. There is absolutely no proof that this transcends species, but we know we need to reserve their use for when we really need them. You could say prudent use gives us more bang for our buck, which leads to the next reason they are not over used in agriculture. Profit margins in farming and ranching are very thin. If you think antibiotics are expensive for your children try buying them without insurance. A small bottle of antibiotic for my cattle will often cost more than $100. We simply do not use them if we don't have to.

I ask you to contact your congressional delegation and tell them that agriculture needs full access to modern antibiotics. I feel that it is my responsibility to do everything in my power to keep my animals healthy and to provide them with the best care modern veterinary medicine affords them. Remember, we feed the same meat to our families that you feed to your family. We would never, ever do anything to jeopardize that safety, no matter what Katie might say.

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