Wednesday, October 14, 2015

All Meat is Antibiotic Free, Even in a Restaurant

Last week I read an article on CNN’s website. Yes, I know reading articles on CNN’s website is bad for my blood pressure and I should avoid it at all cost. However, this article was sent to me by a friend and they asked for my comment on it. It was an article on antibiotics in meat and how the top 25 casual dining chains added up.
Right off the article boldly states a new report is sounding the alarm about the use of antibiotics in meat and poultry. This report is funded by Friends of the Earth, the Natural Resources Defense Council and several other consumer and environmental “watch dog” groups. The article goes on to quote the Center for Disease Control and is very one sided. But what else did I expect from CNN.
The report was funded and organized by consumer protection groups. Let’s be clear about the groups behind this report. They are anti-agriculture groups who, most likely, can be traced back to animal rights groups like HSUS and PETA. They may be disguised as a group pretending to care about the health and safety of your food but in reality they are on a mission to destroy modern animal agriculture. That is their mission and this is the method they are using.
They also quoted the Center for Disease Control or CDC. The quote says that antibiotic resistance is a medical disaster on the horizon and measures need to be taken immediately or we will see a dramatic increase in deaths from antibiotic resistance. I have no doubt that is true but the quote is taken out of context and has nothing to do with our use of antibiotics in farming and ranching.
The article goes on to give Chipotle and Panera Bread A grades for their use of antibiotic free meat and the stringent standards they hold their suppliers up too. That, my friends, is a bunch of hooey. You all know how I feel about the two chains and that I believe they prey upon fear and a lack of knowledge about how meat is raised to sell more food. It is a marketing ploy and one that is far too successful. I was not surprised that they were championed in this report.
Many of the most popular chains like Wendy’s, Burger King and Subway got Fs. That is a not at all true. All restaurants should receive As for serving antibiotic free meat. Why, you ask? Because, and here is a secret that the groups behind the report failed to mention, all meat is antibiotic free. All meat is inspected at the slaughter plant and if antibiotics are found the meat is condemned. So Chipotle and Panera Bread can crow all they want but their meat is no more antibiotic free than McDonald’s or Wendy’s.
What all of this does is add fuel to the hysteria that is building about our use of antibiotics in livestock? There has never been a link found between antibiotic resistance in humans and the use of antibiotics in livestock and there never will be. All the rumor and conjecture does is threatening to strip some very important animal medicines away from caring farmers and ranchers. The bottom line is that we need this medicine to assure that our animals get the best care they can will they are with us.
Modern veterinary medicine has made huge technological advances and we are able to care for and save animals that we would have lost just a few years ago. We understand that with those advances come much responsibility and every producer I know takes that very seriously. We need to maintain the efficacy of antibiotics for the long-term health of our animals and of our families. That is why we follow the labels to the letter and closely watch withdrawal dates.
The bottom line is that most animals are harvested with not a trace of antibiotic in their system and those that might are found and condemned and the meat from those animals will never, ever make it into the food supply. Along with that, responsible use of antibiotics by fellow farmers and ranchers and myself  will assure that antibiotic resistance in humans will never come from agriculture.
This report is alarmist and wrong and CNN did nothing to raise their level of integrity in my opinion by giving it credence. Chipotle and Panera may have good food but the fact that they market themselves as a better, safer, healthier alternative is wrong. I will enjoy a hamburger from Burger King or a pizza from Dominoes knowing that it is just as antibiotic free as a burrito from that other place.

Winning Isn't All About First Place

The final sheep show of the year is coming up for us in Hutchinson next weekend (or this past weekend when you read this). This is a show that I both dread and look forward too. I look forward to it because my morning and evening chores will get much easier afterward with no show animals to feed but I also dread it because it is the last show of the season and it means another year is gone.
This past week is unbelievably hectic, we are in the middle of corn harvest, sheep must be sheared and the tack must be organized. There are not enough hours in the day and shearing by the light of the garage is really tough. Well, I suppose maybe it is easier since you don’t see the spots you missed. In any case, this is a busy stressful week and we often ask ourselves if it is worth it.
I know many of you have seen articles or even experienced the darker side of youth animal shows and someday we will discuss that. I have definite opinions but we will leave that for another time. Even with all of its warts and problems youth animal shows are still a great thing for kids to be involved in. I know my kids have benefited tremendously and we will miss them a great deal when we are done.
Are there bad apples in the show ring? Sadly, the answer is yes. Are there parents, breeders and fitters who take things too far and give everyone a black eye? Again the answer is yes. Are there families who can simply buy their way to the top? I think we all know the answer is again to the affirmative. It is sad but it is also a reflection on society as a whole and by no means do these flies in the ointment represent the vast majority of 4-Hers and FFA members who participate.  Unfortunately they tend to attract the most attention.
My family has seen the worst of the show ring and we have had discussions about it. To be honest, I have told my kids that in some ways this is preparing them for the real world. No matter what field of work you go into there are always those who will do anything to get ahead, whether it is legal or not. In any business there are those who have more money and resources than you do and they can circumvent hard work with that money. These are hard lessons to learn and bitter pills to swallow.
So why are we involved? It is simple; the vast majority of the youth and families involved in youth animal shows are good, salt of the earth people and the very role models I want my kids to be around. The youth involved in showing livestock are the kind that get up early, work hard and are good kids. They are learning real skills, responsibility and gaining a work ethic like none other. They know what it is like to have other depend on you.
I have had employers tell me that they like kids who come from the show ring. They know how to start a project and see it through to the end. Livestock kids can make a plan, make sure it happens each day and most important, complete it. They know the benefit of finishing strong and doing things the right way. I have heard this many times from people in many different businesses. Livestock show kids are always in demand.
I guess that brings us back to the bad apples. Sure they may win a trophy or two; they may get their picture in the winner’s circle but in the end the few that win by hook or crook end up losing. They miss out on those real world skills and the true life skills that will ultimately get them ahead. Do all winners cheat? Absolutely not, most of the winners are the very kids I am talking about and are very deserving of any award they receive.
I guess what I am saying is that not all of the good things about youth livestock shows can be judged in the final drive. The benefits cannot be counted by the number of buckles and banners won. It is more than that and often the youth benefiting the most are not at the top of the class. That is why my kids are involved and why this weekend is important.